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Friday, June 5, 2015, Jaishtha 22, 1422 BS, Shaban 17, 1436 Hijr

Coal to be main fuel in future
No headway made to ensure supply chain
Published : Friday, 5 June, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 25
Shahnaj Begum
Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his budget speech in Parliament said on Thursday that coal will be the main fuel after 2015 although the government is yet to finalise a "coal policy," which is under wraps for a decade.
The Finance Minister categorically said, "We are now taking a number of steps aimed at lasting and sustainable solution which is Coal-based Power Generation, considering that we have finalized a plan to establish a number of coal-based power plants."
Although the Finance Minister did not elaborate on coal or coal policy but he hinted at the slide in the buying capacity of the people and disclosed that the government plans to produce more power from coal as is it is a cheaper source of fuel.
"The Finance Minister in only one sentence said that coal will be the main fuel in generating power after 2015, but it is a misleading information, I can say there is no development plan to extract our own coal, the government is yet to finalise any means to import coal from abroad though it proposes to produce 6,000 MW," Former Energy Adviser Dr M Tamim told The daily Observer on Thursday.
Presently, about 72 per cent power is being produced from gas, 18.03 per cent from liquid fuel, only 1.06 per cent from coal, 1.01 from hydro and 6.77 per cent of electricity has been added into the national grid through import of power from India.
The former adviser said if we really want to plan to use coal as a primary fuel in generating power then we need a very clear cut policy decision on it and take up an executable plan immediately.
The Power Division has taken up a plan to generate around 6,200 MW of power in the current fiscal year, which is the part of the "Power Sector Road Map" that predicts that government plans to add 24,000 MW of electricity into the national grid by 2021, however, it also predicts that coal will be the main fuel through which the government plans to produce power.
For the last ten years the government is working on formulating a coal policy but failed to reach any conclusion so far, even it is yet to take any measure to import coal from abroad although it had taken at least five mega coal fired power projects including  forming Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company for setting up 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal, signing an agreement with JICA for the construction of 1,200 MW coal-based power plant at Matarbari, installing four power plants at Moheskhali with 38 combined capacity of 4,800 MW electricity each generating 1,200 MW and another coal power plant of 1,320 MW at Paira in Patuakhali with the financial assistance of China, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore. At the same time, agreements have also been signed to establish coal power plant to generate 1,411 MW of electricity under public-private partnership.
The Finance Minister only mentioned about Barapukuria Coalmine and said, "The production has been increased by adopting advanced technology. If we start extracting coal from the north side of the mine by using an open method, 110 million MT of coal could possibly be extracted over the next 25 years with an estimated 4 to 5 million MT coal per year," but the reality is we need 10 times more coal to implement the pipeline coal fired power projects," a senior official of the power division said.
In his budget speech the Finance Minister said that the power crisis has almost been mitigated and 68 per cent of the people are getting electricity but still we need to ensure efficient use of precious power and energy in proper manner, to implement the idea, the Finance Minister emphasized upon the use of energy saving and efficient use of energy in future.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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