Domestic consumers of electricity still face power outages on a regular basis across the country, while industrial consumers suffer from voltage fluctuations despite the country having over capacity.
Enhancement of the transmission and distribution system is a demand of the time for this sector, but the issue has been focused poorly in the proposed budget for the fiscal 2021-22.
While pointing out the importance of meeting energy demand for Bangladesh's economic growth, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal focused on power generation as he presented the budget on Thursday at the national parliament.
In his speech, the minister proposed a Tk27,484 crore allocation from the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the Power Division, and Energy & Mineral Resources Division in the next fiscal year.
In the outgoing fiscal year, allocation for the divisions was Tk26,758 crore.
Total power generation capacity of Bangladesh (including captive and renewable energy) has increased from 4,900MW in 2009 to 25,227MW as of May 2021.
In addition, 38 power plants with a capacity of 14,115MW are under construction, while contracts have been signed for the construction of another 20 power plants with a capacity of 2,961MW to meet the growing demand for power in Bangladesh, the minister said.
However, the proposed budget did not properly address the issues related to power transmission, especially for mega-projects such as Rampal 1,320MW coal-based Maitri Super Thermal Power Plant project, Matarbari 1,200MW Ultra-super Critical Power Plant project and Rooppur 2,400MW nuclear power plant project.
Moreover, power transmission from the 1,320MW thermal power plant at Payra, which has been operating at 50% capacity due to the lack of transmission lines – has not been addressed at all in the proposed budget.
Therefore, the amount of unused electricity will be high next year, increasing the government's losses further.
Energy experts say important areas in the power and energy sector have not received adequate priority in the proposed budget.
Commenting on the issue, Energy expert and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) Professor Mohammad Tamim said. "Therefore, we will see a mismatch between power generation and transmission in the coming days if the Rampal coal-power plant comes online without the necessary transmission lines."
He added, "We have to focus on issues which will become barriers against the sector's progress."
Speaking about energy security, Mohammad Tamim said, "The government voiced plans regarding land-based LNG terminals in order to increase the gas supply. But gas exploration in the country's off-shore areas was not addressed in the proposed budget."