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Coal, LNG for Generating Power: MAX Group Chairman

LIQUEFIED natural gas (LNG) and coal could be the ultimate long-term fuel source in power generation in Bangladesh as the reserve of natural gas is depleting locally and prices of heavy fuel oil will eventually shoot up globally. Effective long term regulatory policies and fuel logistics need to be in place to ensure sustainable and continuous supply of cheaper fuel in the coming decades for the country’s power plants and immediate steps need to be taken to start implementing such policies from grass-root level by the government. People & industries are benefited Engineer Ghulam M Alomgir, Chairman, MAX Group, one of the passionate developers of power sector in Bangladesh and EPC contractor of power plants, shared his views during an interview with the Holiday. He said, the government formulated the plans for generating power plants with private sector investment during acute power crisis and after finalising policies, it began awarding contracts for power plants to the private parties in rental and quick rental areas which proved to be a timely move. As a result, private sector is now generating around 50 per cent of the country’s total power production and the people and industries alike are getting the benefit. Actually, at the beginning the situation was very challenging and only a few international companies dared to invest. At that time, MAX as a local company along with other local companies came forward and invested in installing rental power plant. “My company is operating a gas based 78.5 MW power plant located at Ghorashal through a contract with the Bangladesh Power Development Board. The first phase of our three years was in association with the US based GE Rental Asset Holding Inc and we have commissioned the second phase of five years with brand new gas turbines from GE (USA),” the Max Group chairman said. Alomgir, who also the President of the Engineers Club, Dhaka said power is the main driving force for development of a nation and the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken all out measures to meet the rising power demand. The government is also going ahead with its renewable and nuclear fuel-based power plants; gas, heavy fuel oil, coal, LNG and combined cycle based power plants with public and private sector investments. Visibility of power development He said, the government has planned to close all single cycle plants and maintain the efficient plants only. He mentioned the power sector is working directly under the supervision of the Prime Minister; and Nasrul Hamid, her state minister, is very dynamic and therefore, this sector’s development would become more visible in the next 5 (five) years time. He said, installed power generation capacity of the country including rental, quick rental, public, captive and all the independent power producing plants is 15,379 MW (megawatt) and the government is already importing power from India and also planning to import more power from Nepal and Bhutan through India. However, the demand for power will increase by the days and Bangladesh needs to focus on coal, which is cheaper fuel option in the long term, to ensure uninterrupted power supply to meet the increasing demand. Though Bangladesh is generating a substantial portion of power through small-scale renewable sources, it is yet to prove its cost effectiveness for large-scale projects as it requires huge lands for installing panels and a panel gets only one-eighth time radiation of the requirement. He said until new gas fields are explored, heavy fuel is the solution and despite low prices in the international market, HFO is still costlier and hence LNG and/or coal is the ultimate solution. He said, “We operate a rental power plant (Max power limited at Ghorasal) and it is one of the best among the existing plants as it operates efficiently and well within the environmental limits maintaining strict conformity to all compliance requirements.” “In May 2017 our Max Infrastructure Limited, the EPC contractor for the 163 MW combined cycle power plant at Fenchugonj developed by Kushiara Power Company Limited, is expecting the simple cycle COD using mostly local talents and own management.” Let local firms handle EPC contracts support and encouragement. Private sector has demonstrated its sincerity and capability and is ready for the next level. Mr. Alomgir pointed out that instead of waiting for the Chinese and Indian companies to do all EPC contracts of the country, the government should give priority to develop local EPC contractors. For doing so, the requirement of overseas experience for local companies should logically be eliminated from qualification criteria to eliminate dependency on foreign contractors in the long run. He also suggested that the government could provide the power transmission and distribution system to privately owned companies in phases that may reduce the system loss and curtail losses from generation to end level users.

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