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Coal shortage forcing Payra plant to shut down

Southern region may experience increased load shedding
Al Mamun . Barishal
02 Jun 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 02 Jun 2023 00:28:36
Coal shortage forcing Payra plant to shut down
Aerial view of Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant in Kalapara, Patuakhali– File Photo

Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali is temporarily ceasing operations from June 3 due to a lack of coal supply.

The coal supply occurred due to the non-payment of arrears caused by the dollar crisis. A lack of electricity supply from the power plant is likely to cause severe load sheddings in the southern region as well as across the country.

Related sources informed this correspondent that the power plant will be able to be restarted in the last week of June. However, they are unsure whether it will be possible to relaunch the plan at full capacity or not.

Payra Thermal Power Plant Project Manager Shah Abdul Mawla said with the coal available in reserve, the plant can be kept operational till June 3 and the plant will be shut down afterwards.

But they expect a shipment of coal to arrive at the end of June and resume operations.

“We have yet to receive the full amount of the $100 million provided by the government. But hope to get it within a day or two. It will take a while to get the supply of coal. We estimate it may arrive by the end of June,” he said.

The project manager further added that they cannot be sure if the lack of supply from the power plant will have a negative impact on the country.

“It depends on what approach PDB (Bangladesh Power Development Board) takes. I cannot speak on their behalf but we are trying our best,” he added.

Bangladesh-China Power Company Ltd (BCPCL) operates the power plant while China National Machinery Import and Export Company (CMC), which has a 50 per cent stake in the plant, pays for the coal.

According to Payra Thermal Power Plant sources, an average of 12,000 tonnes of coal is used daily to run the power plant at full capacity. The coal is imported from Indonesia by CMC. CMC failed to pay a bill of $298 million for coal supply in the last six months.

Out of the two units producing 1320 MW, the first unit of 660 MW capacity came into production on January 10, 2020. Later, on August 26 of the same year, the second unit went into production. PDB signed an agreement in September 2016 to buy power from Payra Thermal Power Station.

However, one unit of the power plant had to be shut down for a year and a half due to complications in the transmission line.

Payra Thermal Power Plant Supervising Engineer Rezwan Iqbal Khan said, “It is well known that one of the units of the power plant has already been shut down due to coal shortage. We have kept the rest of the unit running with the remaining stockpile of coal. But that too will be closed after June 3.”

He said that there is a chance of resuming operations by the end of June but it is not possible to say whether that will be in full capacity or not.

In regards to whether there will be an increase in load shedding in the country if the plant is closed, Rezwan said it depends on NLDC (National Load Dispatch Center) as they regulate power supply across the country.

“All the electricity produced in the country goes through the national grid so it is entirely up to them where they regulate the power supply. Even so, the shutting down of the Payra power plant will affect the national power supply,” he added.

According to related sources, Payra Thermal Power Plant is the largest in the country with a 1,320-megawatt production capacity.

Some 1240 MW of electricity or about nine per cent of the total electricity demand of the country is met by this power plant. Shutting it down will more or less have an effect but the amount depends on the total electricity production of the country.

Sources said that the power plant’s managing director is currently discussing resolving the situation as soon as possible with the concerned parties.

Earlier, Bagerhat’s Rampal power plant was also shut down twice due to a coal shortage caused by the dollar crisis. However, it is currently operational.