According to an alternative environment-friendly power generation proposal, unit price of electricity in 2021 could be Tk 7.65, as opposed to the government's projected price of Tk 11.56 for the same year.
The implementation cost of this “draft” proposal -- revealed yesterday by National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports -- is also $19 billion less than that of the government's Power System Master Plan (PSMP) for 2016 to 2041.
The government estimated that the PSMP would cost $129 billion to produce 245 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity by 2041, whereas the power generation project proposed by the committee would cost only $110 billion, said Prof Anu Muhammad, renowned economist and also member secretary of the committee.
He said this at an event organised at the capital's Jatiya Press Club where the committee disclosed the draft of their alternative proposal.
The proposal has been prepared following a year-long research conducted by a panel of renowned local and foreign experts, the committee leaders said.
The draft proposal is environment-friendly as 55 percent of electricity under it would be generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind and waste energy (municipal waste, manufacturing waste, landfill gas, etc).
Natural gas would be used to produce 37 percent of the electricity while the remainder, eight percent, would be generated using oil and from rental plants from regional countries.
Their proposal would save the country's environment and it aims to free the country from foreign debts by relying on local recourses, Prof Anu Muhammad said.
In contrast, the government plan would cause harm to the environment and it relies on imports and foreign loans, he argued.
In the committee's draft proposal, renewable energy resources and natural gas have been given priority over coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and nuclear energy as fuel to run the power plants.
Besides, “...the government's present master plan does not incorporate drilling in deep and shallow areas in the sea for natural gas,” to increase the country's fossil fuel reserve, Prof Anu Muhammad said.
The government must increase the capacity of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex) to meet the country's demand, he added.
Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim said they were not given any opportunity to discuss on the issue before the government adopted its power generation master plan.
The government should accept the committee's alternative power generation plan for the sake of the country's wellbeing as it is “positive and people-oriented”, he also said. “The government aims to make money with its master plan, while the committee's proposal is people-friendly.”
Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of the central executive committee of Gono Songhoti Andolon, said rather than relying on natural gas, the government chose to import liquefied natural gas that is costlier.
Prof Abdul Hasib Chowdhury of electrical and electronic engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) said the government's energy policy should be studied before the committee prepares its final power generation master plan.
Engineer Mahbub Sumon, a member of the research panel for the committee, spoke at the event among others.
According to a handout provided to journalists during the event, the national committee's power and energy research panel comprises Prof Anu Muhammad (co-ordinator), Prof BD Rahmatullah, engineer Mahbub Sumon, engineer Moudud Rahman, engineer Kallol Mustafa, engineer Debashish Sarkar, researcher Maha Mirza, Prof Moshahid Sultana and Dr Tanjim Uddin Khan.
The advisory members of the panel include Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convener of the national committee; Prof Abdul Hasib Chowdhury of electrical and electronic engineering department at Buet; Dr Sajid Kamal, a researcher of renewable energy resources and teacher at Brandeis University in Boston, USA; and Tim Buckley and Simon Nicholas at Institute of Energy Economic and Financial Analysis in Sydney, Australia.