The country will have to depend on imported fuel for generating the targeted 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021. Since extraction of local gas and coal has now become uncertain, 92 per cent of the targeted quantity will have to be generated by burning imported fuel, says an energy expert.
The government has set a vision to provide electricity to all by 2021. But to achieve the goal the government has made little arrangements for supply of local fuel yet. To generate power oil, coal and LNG will have to be imported which will make the energy sector more dependent on imported fuel and electricity consumption more expensive.
Prof M Tamim, an energy expert, told the Daily Observer on Wednesday, "The country will gradually become dependent on imported fuel for generating at least 92 per cent of the targeted 24,000 MW of power. All of the initiatives the government has taken, so far, for power generation depend on foreign fuel. To secure the energy sector the government should go for gas and coal exploration within the country immediately."
State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid said the government has to adopt imported fuel option as the country's gas reserve is depleting fast.
The government had declared on September 2014 to lower power price in 2015 while the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) had decided to hike electricity rates. Meanwhile this year the pleas of five distribution companies for hiking power price are awaiting BERC's approval.
Officials said power price will be hiked at any time, as gas price has already been hiked. In future there is no option to lower power price rather it will be hiked because of the cost of imported fuel. Moreover, our coal import is also uncertain. Thus the projected coal-based power plants have been delayed.
About US$17 billion will be required annually for import of fuel, he added.
Economist Prof Anu Mohammad told this correspondent that the government should draft a prudent policy for searching for alternative fuel for generating electricity. Renewable energy will be cheaper than imported fuel. If BAPEX extracts coal it may be cheaper but it will not be a wise decision to give foreign companies contract to extract coal, because foreign companies will sell the extracted coal at the international market rate which will increase power price again.
Now we are using gas at $2.20 per unit and imported LNG will cost $16 per unit. Presently power generation cost per unit is Tk 6 to Tk 6.50 but imported power from abroad will be Tk 8 and for oil-fired power Tk 17 to Tk 20 per unit. So for minimizing subsidy the government has to hike power price time and again, Prof Anu said.
By abolishing rental power plants the government cannot avoid increasing power price due to dependency on imported fuel, he added.