When the country is reeling from load shedding and production cuts in industries due to short supply of imported fuel, there is a small but significant development in the country: the national grid is likely to get an additional 60 megawatts of green power in December this year as the country's maiden large-scale wind-powered power plant is set to go into production in that month.
This is not the first wind power project of the country. The Bangladesh Power Development Board constructed a 0.9MW wind-based power plant near the dam along the River Muhuri in Sonagazi upazila under Feni district in 2005. Three years later, a 1MW wind power plant was constructed in Kutubdia, Cox's Bazar. Both the plants are now out of operation due to a lack of supervision and interest of the power development board.
This time, this power plant being built in Cox's Bazar will have an impact with its 60 megawatt capacity. The biggest advantage for Bangladesh from this green power project would be that it would not have to depend on any imported fossil fuel but only year-round natural wind to generate this power.
The 724km long coastal region of the country is suitable for wind power generation as there is significant wind power generation potential, according to a report of energytrackerasia, a renewable energy advocacy group. Bangladesh has vast potential to exploit this renewable energy source, which still remains untapped.
The $116.51 million wind power project was inaugurated on 31 March this year. US-DK Green Energy BD Ltd, a private company, is implementing the project with funding from the Chinese company SPIC Wuiling Power Corporation.
With 40% of the work already completed, the project is now awaiting installations of wind turbines in Khurushkul, PM Khali, Chowfaldandi, and Pokkhali unions of Cox's Bazar near the sea coast, said project sources. Two sets of turbines along with other necessary equipment reached the country Friday last, they added.
The firm that is developing the project will sell the electricity generated from the plant to the government under an 18-year management contract.
Richard Xie, CEO of US-DK Green Energy, told The Business Standard, "Work on installing the towers is going on. Foundation connections of six out of the 22 wind turbines have been completed, while that of four others are 70% done."
At present, the work is a bit slow due to the monsoon, he mentioned, adding that it will take about 45 days to finish the foundation connection work of the four turbines.
And then, the foundation connection work of the remaining 12 turbines will start, he continued.
He also said they are working to complete the project work within the stipulated time frame so that the power plant can go into production this December.
The government has laid emphasis on wind power generation as part of endeavour to raise the contribution of renewable energies to the country's total power supply to 10% by 2025.
The Power Division says the government will set up a dozen wind power plants in the country which are expected to add more than 500MW of electricity to the national grid.
This is only one of the first 9 such wind power projects that are expected to begin operation one after another.
Apart from the 60MW one in Cox's Bazar, three more wind power projects with a cumulative power generation capacity of 102MW are underway in Sirajganj, Bagerhat, and Chuadanga districts that will be completed next year.
Besides, contractor selection for a 50MW wind power project in Chandpur Sadar and a 30MW plant in Sonagazi of Feni are in the pipeline.
Moreover, the Power Division has planned to implement six more wind power projects with a total capacity of 272MW.
Cox's Bazar project progressing steadily
A total of 22 wind turbines – set on 110 metres tall towers– will turn wind energy into electricity using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades, which work like an aeroplane wing or helicopter rotor blade, people associated with the 60MW wind power project in Cox's Bazar told The Business Standard.
On Friday last, a third shipment arrived at Chattogram from China with 900 tonnes of equipment including two sets of turbines.
Previous two shipments, one in December last and the other in May this year, brought in necessary equipment including foundation connection bolts.
Project Manager Engineer Mukit Alam Khan told TBS that a wind speed of three metres per second is required for generating electricity from wind. And the full capacity of a wind power plant can be utilised only when the wind speed is nine metres per second or above.
The average wind speed is 5.5 metres per second at the project site, but wind speed is slightly lower in winter, he added.
Green energy targets far from being met
The government, in its Renewable Energy Policy, had set a target to generate 5% of the total electricity supply from renewable energy resources by 2015 and 10% by 2020.
But the targets remain unfulfilled.
Now the government targets raising the contribution of renewable energies to the country's total power supply to 10% by 2025.
Currently, less than 4% of electricity comes from renewable sources.
According to data provided by the power and energy ministry, total electricity generation capacity in the country including captive and renewable energies currently stands at 25,235MW.
Md Alauddin, former chairman of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, told TBS the initiatives to build wind-power power plants can be deemed as the beginning of a new chapter in diversifying the country's energy mix.