Surplus capacity and fuel issues are likely to be prioritised in the forthcoming review of the Power System Master Plan (PSMP).
Due to existing over-capacity, the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources initiated the revision of the PSMP 2016.
The review will start as soon as the ongoing pandemic situation normalises, said a source at the Power Division.
The source also said a memorandum of understanding had already been inked between the Power Division and review consultant Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Ltd.
Maksuda Khatun, additional secretary to the Power Division, told The Business Standard the review of the master plan was being planned but the pandemic had stalled the process.
"The Power Division had a meeting with TEPCO officials in February to start the review. The review will start as soon as they arrive in Dhaka," she said.
Power Division sources said in the forthcoming review, the government will look at five major areas, including: demand forecast, future technology, fuel issues, environment, and renewable energy.
This time, the Power Division is earnest about formulating short-term policies. The government is keen to have a realistic forecast of demand to avoid the burden of surplus capacity and an environmentally-friendly fuel mix that will ensure a lower cost of production.
The Power Division's current capacity and the development projects were implemented with the projection of the PSMP 2010, which was revised in 2016.
In the PSMP 2010, power generation capacity was projected at 24,000 megawatts in 2021 and 40,000 megawatts in 2030. Half of the total capacity will be fulfilled by coal.
Later, in PSMP 2016, TEPCO reduced coal's domination in its planning to 35% of the total energy mix, and the total power generation target was set at 60,000 megawatts in 2041.
However, the revised projection is still too high, according to experts. They opined the previous master plans were misled by high GDP growth forecasts.
Currently, the country's total power generation capacity is around 20,383 megawatts, excluding captive power, while consumption fluctuates between 11,500 megawatts and 12,000 megawatts.
According to experts, the ideal reserve margin for a standard power system is 10-15% of total capacity, but it is now 41% in Bangladesh.
Energy expert Dr Mohammad Tamim told The Business Standard the power capacity projection was made considering industrial demand growth.
"However, in the last three to four years, the percentage of grid electricity used by industries was flat as industrial growth did not happen as expected," he said.
He suggested going for short-term planning instead of long-term planning.
Meanwhile, some local and international environmental organisations–including Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association and Campaign for Good Governance–welcomed the government's initiative to review the master plan.
They emphasised revisiting fuel mixture but opposed the government's decision to appoint TEPCO as the review consultant.
In a statement, they said the national power demand projection stipulated in PSMP 2010 was impractical, and was, therefore, changed accordingly in 2016.
They argued that TEPCO has a serious conflict of interest in Bangladesh's power and energy sector because it started working as the environmental impact assessment and engineering consultant for the Matarbari 1,200MW coal-fired plant and the Anowara-Matarbari 400KV transmission line project.