By Syed Shukur Ali Shuvo
DHAKA, Jan 03, 2018 (BSS) - A total of 11,104 megawatts (MW) of power have been added to the national grid in the last nine years, facilitiating 83 percent of the country's total population access to electricity, according to official sources.
"The electricity generation capacity reached 16,046 MW and now 83 percent people are getting power facility across the country. In the recent years, Bangladesh has experienced booming economic growth, rapid urbanization and industrialization as electricity supply has been increased," State Minister for Power, energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told BSS yesterday.
He said the government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina constructed additional 85 power plants, 1, 60,000 km distribution lines, 2,622 circuit km transmission lines in the last nine years aimed at turning Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and developed and prosperous country by 2041.
"The government has undertaken 13 mega projects in cooperation with India, Japan, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore to set up coal-based power plants and construction of 5,925 MW capacity power plant under the public and private partnership (PPP) is underway. We expect the first mega project of Pyra having 1300 MW capacity will come into operation in April 2019," Nasrul added.
He said pre-paid metering system has been introduced nationwide aimed at making bill payment system easier with collecting hundred percent electric bill, adding some seven lakh pre-paid meters have already been installed and another twenty seven lakh meters are expected to be installed by next June in 2018.
The state minister said the power division has been brought under digitalization to enhance its efficiency, transparency, accountability and increase the quality of customer service.
"We have decided to develop underground electricity distribution system to make it time-befitting especially in major cities," he, however, said.
About fuel diversification, the state minister said the government has been diversifying the fuel mix for power generation as natural gas is depleting day by day, adding "Government has a plan to gradually use coal, LNG and other available fuel for power generation with the natural gas. To ensure energy security, the government has formulated Power sector master plan (PSMP)-2016 for overall development of the sector."
He said the government has a plan to further import 3,500 MW of power through regional cooperation by 2021 and 660-MW electricity is currently being imported from India.
Nasrul added that so far, 45 million Solar Home System (SHS), 10 solar mini grids have been installed in off-grid rural areas and the government has a plan to install 60 million SHS and 50 Solar Mini-grid System by 2018 to cover about 10 percent of total population.
Talking to BSS, Director General (DG) of Power Cell Engineer Mohammad Hossain said the system loss of the power sector has been brought down to 12.19 percent from 16.85 percent and per capita power generation reached 433 kWh and the total subscribers reached 2.74 crore in the country.
"The government has decided to implement electricity transmission projects under PPP for the first time, which was taken up in 1997 during the first term of Prime Minister Sheik Hasina's government," he said.
Hossain said the government established Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) to promote renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency and mitigate risks of natural calamities caused by global warming in Bangladesh.
According to official data, the AL-led government assumed office in 2009, when the nation was suffering from chronic power crisis. The average power demand at that time was about 6,000 MW while power generation capacity of the country was 4,942 MW. It said eight to ten hours load-shedding in summer was causing unbearable miseries to people and now the generation capacity has increased more than 16,000 MW.