The government should abandon all new coal and LNG based-power projects in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, said energy expert Professor Mohammad Tamim.
"This is because the demand for electricity will not increase in the next two to three years due to job losses and the economic fallout of the pandemic," said Prof Tamim, giving his reaction to the power sector's proposed budget.
He added the three ongoing coal power projects may continue and urged the government to have a hard look at the power sector's master plan once again.
"The government has accumulated generation capacity, hoping the electricity demand will increase massively after industrialisation and urbanisation – that did not happen," Professor Mohammad Tamim said.
He said based on this prediction, the authority has built up a large capacity which remains idle.
"Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, we were seeing that electricity demand did not increase in a manner corresponding with our economic growth," he explained.
He said that the demand projection in the revised Power Sector Master Plan-2016 is highly ambitious.
"The sector needs a short time projection and needs a review of the fuel mix policy," he suggested.
As part of it, he recommended that the government abandon the coal project outside of the ongoing three projects.
"If we undertake new projects, they should come from LNG, but of course that also must be on-demand assessed," he added.
"The government should reduce the excess capacity because the cost of idle capacity is very high," he further said.
"No new investment will come when they [potential investors] see the country is already overburdened with capacity. So, in such a situation, all oil-based rental and quick rental plants need to be shut," he continued.
Meanwhile, he recommended that the authority digitise the transmission and distribution system.
He said in the pandemic, and other cases, the public could experience blackouts if the grid has to be shut down due to a drastic fall in demand.
"So modernisation and smart grid infrastructure is very important and should be focused on in the upcoming budget. This pandemic has highlighted this importance even more," he said.
"As part of it, the government should modernise, and make independent, our National Load Dispatch Center – NLDC which has grown outdated. The system needs smart dispatch, SCADA and a remote load control system," he said.
Mohammad Tamim, Professor, Buet