Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today formally inaugurated the country's biggest Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant, constructed at a cost of around Tk20,000 crore at Patuakhali's Kalapara upazila.
She also declared 100% electrification across the country as the first South Asian nation.
Sheikh Hasina, in person, is visiting the district for the first time to open the power plant since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bangladesh has become the third in Asia and the thirteenth in the world to use ultra-supercritical technology in producing power.
With the opening of the first coal-fired Ultra Supercritical Technology power plant, coastal neighbourhoods of Payra and the "daughter of the sea" famed Kuakata in Patuakhali are expected to take the driver's seat in the country's journey of economic growth.
The area is poised to become a nucleus for regional communication and trade with India, China, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka once the government's ambitious rail and road projects centring the southern region are implemented.
Payra has the potential to become an important port as a transit point on the Silk Route by sea and a global trade hub as the government plans on building the region as one of the major economic corridors of the country by establishing direct road and rail communications with the capital Dhaka and the rest of the country and thus establishing connectivity with India, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.
Earlier, State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid said the project has been completed ahead of schedule and saved $100 million.
The plant was developed by Bangladesh China Power Company (BCPCL), a 50:50 joint venture between the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) and Bangladesh's state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL).
Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt) Limited and Consortium of NEPC & CECC signed the EPC contract on 29 March 2016 to implement the Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant Project in the fastest possible time.
The first 660 MW unit of the power plant went into commercial operation in May 2020, utilising the 400 kv Payra-Gopalganj Power Transmission while the second one started production in December last year.
The power generation capacity has rocketed to 25,514 MW in February 2022 from 4,942 MW in January 2009. Of them, 1160 MW of electricity is being imported and 19,626 MW is being locally produced
Besides, the country's biggest coal-fired power plant has been set up in Payra. The construction of a 163-kilometre transmission line from the power station to Gopalganj grid has already been completed while the construction of a 75km line from Gopalganj to Aminbazar of Dhaka is in progress and slated for completion by December this year.
The electricity generated at the plant is being supplied through submarine cables to 25,358 households in various chars of Rangabali upazila, Patuakhali, which is surrounded by the sea and rivers. Through this, the government is inching towards achieving the target of 100% electrification.
At present, 1,000MW of power is being generated experimentally from this 1,320MW plant.
Barishal Divisional Commissioner Md Amin Ul Ahsan said centering Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant near the Payra Seaport, the economic activities of the people in this area have already been accelerated.
Noting the activities of setting up an economic zone in the area, he said the site has already been selected and the process of land acquisition is underway since the government has a huge plan cenetring the southern part of the country.
Apart from the 1320MW thermal power plant, the commissioner said, the construction work of another power plant is underway while the government has also a plan to build a 1320MW power plant and a solar system power plant here.
"This region would be turned into a power hub by the next five to ten years," he added.
This coal-fueled power plant, generally known as a baseload power plant that operates continuously round the clock, has been built as the coal is till now a cheapest fuel, he said, adding, "Before starting the construction work, the honourable Prime Minister herself chose this site".
Once the country's largest power plant goes into operation in full swing, the BCPCL official said, it will be possible to keep electricity prices at a tolerable level.
Earlier, a guard of honour was given to the premier on her arrival at the helipad adjoining the Payra Thermal Power Plant.
Later, 200 fishermen boats decorated with various colours welcomed Sheikh Hasina by waving flags and playing songs as soon as the prime minister arrived at the coal jetty.
A festive mood has been prevailing in the areas from the tourism spot Kuakata to the Payra power plant and their neighbourhoods which get a facelift with various eye-catching things.
Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Haque, PM's Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, among others, were present at the inaugural function.