The Power Division – under the power, energy and mineral resources ministry – has formally announced its decision to scrap 10 coal-fired power plants, following widespread criticism from green activists and experts against such projects.
State Minister for the Ministry of Power Energy And Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told the media at the secretariat on Sunday, "The approval of ten coal-based power projects has been cancelled over their dissatisfactory progress.
"Cancellation of these projects will have no impact on the electricity supply, and region-based electricity generation will get priority in the coming days."
The scraped power plants are – Patuakhali 1,320MW, Uttarbanga Super Thermal Power Plant Gaibandha 1,200MW, Munshiganj 522MW, two 282MW projects in Dhaka and Chattogram, Khulna 565MW, Two Moheskhali 1,320MW, Singapore-Bangladesh 700MW joint-venture plant and Sumitomo-Corporation joint-venture plant 1,200MW.
According to a press statement issued by the Power Division on Sunday, Bangladesh will face a power generation capacity gap of 8,451MW by 2030 due to the cancellation of the above-mentioned projects.
A supply shortage of 5,275MW will also hit Dhaka, Mymensingh and Rangpur by this period, it said, adding that the shortage will be covered by utilising surplus electricity generated in other regions.
During Sunday's press meet, Nasrul Hamid said that the government will import hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan to boost renewable energy's contribution in the sector.
'A pragmatic step'
Viewing the government's decision as a pragmatic step, energy expert and mining engineer Dr Mushfiqur Rahman said, "In this long list of such projects, most could not even reach the construction phase.
"Moreover, many of the sponsors could not secure financing for these plants because potential sources of funds did not respond positively after analyzing the projects' feasibility."
He continued, "The government's plan to implement some of these projects with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a non-pragmatic decision. As required logistics and infrastructure for LNG is not prepared yet, such a move will be a long-term endeavour.
"We currently have two Floating Storage Re-Gasification Units (FSRU) with a capacity to supply 1000mmcf gas per day. Initiatives for building alternative or land-based LNG infrastructure and importing the gas from India remain at a very primary stage."
Bangladesh could consider LNG as a cleaner and long-term option for fuel, but logistically, the country is not ready to feed these projects, Dr Rahman told The Business Standard.
Discussing the prospect of clean energy in Bangladesh, the energy expert said, "Bangladesh will have to put maximum effort into utilising all renewable energy options available in the country.
"Unfortunately, wind potential energy is very limited in our country, while utilising the offshore wind is very challenging. We are yet to even carry out primary feasibility studies regarding this sector."
He added that in comparison, solar energy has some prospects in Bangladesh.
"However, solar radiation is not very intensive here and we also suffer from land-related limitations. Regional energy trade could be a good initiative for Bangladesh to increase its renewable energy capacity through imports from neighbouring countries," Dr Rahman said.