Electricity generation has improved and load shedding has decreased dramatically in Bangladesh in the last decade, but the time to stop captive power generation has not come yet as industries still suffer from low voltage electricity and a poor power supply.
Industrialists and stakeholders expressed this opinion at a webinar titled "Potentials and Possibilities for Replacing Captive Generation with Quality Grid Supply" on Saturday.
They said that the power division should ensure the quality of the electricity supply before shutting down the captive power generation facilities.
At the webinar, Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, presented the keynote paper on the power sector's current status and the share of captive power generation in the country.
In his presentation, Mohammad Hossain stated that captive power generation needs to cease as it is 32% less efficient than conventional power plants.
He also suggested that the power distribution companies provide uninterrupted electricity supply to industries.
However, during the panel discussion, Managing Director of Energypac Limited Humayun Rashid opposed the Power Cell director general's statement by saying, "90% of captive power generation systems also have co-generation capacity; therefore, one cannot accept the statement that captive power systems are inefficient."
Humayun Rashid said the Power Division is penalising independent power producers for not properly supplying electricity. But, there is no compensation for the industries that suffer damage caused by the poor electricity supply from power distribution companies.
So, if the power sector wants to stop captive power generation, it should guarantee an uninterrupted and standard electricity supply.
Echoing the Energypac Limited's managing director, former director of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association Razeeb Haider said there is no alternative to using captive power until an uninterrupted electricity supply is ensured.
Energy advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh Professor Dr Shamsul Alam said recent discussions on captive power apparently showed that the Power Division never worked with a proper plan.
"Once, industries were called for taking gas connections to generate captive power, but now the Power Division wants to shut such systems," he said.
"If it [the Power Division] stops gas supply to captive power generating systems, then who will take liability for the factory owners' investments in setting up such systems?" he asked.
In his speech as a special guest, Dr Sultan Ahmed said captive power generation can be stopped on condition of the electricity supply improving and that has to be done through consultation with entrepreneurs.
He said, "Captive power was required to meet demand. But now another kind of reality has arisen and we cannot waste our precious energy because of a system with low efficiency."
Mollah M Amzad Hossain, editor at Energy and Power magazine, moderated the discussion while other officials from the power sector – including managing directors of the Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited and Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited – spoke at the programme.