Coal shortage: Production at another unit of Payra power plant may suspend after June 2
Operation of another unit of 1,320 MW coal-fired Payra power plant is going to be suspended soon due to coal shortage, according to Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt.) Limited (BCPCL) officials. The plant has two units each having 660 MW and the first unit of the two has already been shut following the coal crisis. "Now the remaining unit may run until June 2", said Shah Abdul Moula, plant manager of the BCPCL. BCPCL, a joint venture of the Chinese firm China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CMC) and Bangladeshi state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (NWPGCL), is the owner and operator of the Payra power plant. Read more: IPPs call for uniform import duty on primary fuels The plant manager said that the plant is currently operating one unit having 660 MW while another 660 MW unit was closed last week. Moula said that the overdue payment against the coal import actually created this critical situation. The overdue amount now stands at more than $400 million. "But recently we received a permission from Bangladesh Bank to pay $50 million to the coal supplier against the overdue", he said adding that this will help arrange to resume coal import. Read more: Separate entity needed to deal with matters relating to coal: Energy experts But still it will take about a month to receive the coal supply and we hope we may not get before June 28, said another official of the BCPCL. According to official sources, the Payra power plant needs to import 3 lakh metric tonnes of coal every month to operate the plant in full swing. They said the BCPCL normally opens LC through state-owned Sonali Bank to import the coal. But recently Sonali Bank regretted opening the LC due to the dollar crisis. Admitting about the problems, the BCPCL officials said the authority has already communicated the issue to the Power Division to take necessary measures. Read more: Committee to review existing deals on coal purchase for power generation Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on March 21 last year inaugurated the 1320 MW ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant at Patuakhali's Payra on a day when she also declared the country's 100 percent electricity coverage. This milestone achievement puts Bangladesh ahead of India and Pakistan among the South Asian nations to light up every house with electricity. BCPCL set up the plant using Ultra Supercritical Technology at over $2 billion as part of a development partnership on 982.77 acres of land. The Export-Import Bank of China lent $1.96 billion for the project. The company started operation in 2016. Read more: Bashundhara Group wins bid to supply 8 million MT of coal to Rampal power plant This kind of coal-fired power plant using Ultra Supercritical Technology is the thirteenth in the world and seventh in South Asia. The Ultra Supercritical Technology used for this plant aims at protecting the environment in line with the government's policy, officials said. After undergoing test runs for about five months, the first unit of the Payra power plant started commercial operation in May, 2020. In October, 2020, the second unit of the 660 MW plant, a joint venture of Bangladesh and China, started its commercial operation. The Payra and another 1320 MW Rampal power plants have been implemented targeting the power evacuation from both the two plants and transmit power to Dhaka city and adjoining areas to meet growing power demand. Read more: Illegal coal furnaces leave Khulna gasping for breath & answers The Payra power plant is burning some 13,000 tonnes of coal a day. It has a 76.30 acre dumping zone where 25 years’ worth of by-product can be kept. The plant is currently importing coal from Indonesia. It has its own jetty whose conveyor belts can unload 3,200 tonnes of coal every hour from four vessels at the same time. Bangladesh's power generation capacity reached 25,514 MW from just 3200MW in 2009, according to the data.
IPPs call for uniform import duty on primary fuels
Removal of discrepancies in the import duties imposed on primary fuels, which are used as inputs in power generation, can reduce the government’s subsidies in the power and energy sector. The notion is being put forward by the private power producers of the country, also known as IPPs (independent power producers). They are claiming that the discriminatory import taxes on primary fuels - furnace oil (diesel), coal, and gas (LNG) - ultimately favours the coal-fired power plants that projects the government’s biases towards ‘the dirtiest fuel’. Currently there is a 5 percent duty on the import of coal, which rises to 34 percent on furnace oil, aka heavy fuel oil (HFO), and 22 percent on gas. Read more: Ilisha-1 country’s 29th gas field: Nasrul Hamid As a result, the price per MMBtu (metric million British Thermal Unit) of coal comes to Tk 10-11 and when power is generated from coal, it costs Tk 12-13. After adding 5 percent import duty, the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants becomes Tk 13-14. On the other hand, the price per MMBtu of HFO comes to Tk 11-12 and the power generation from the HFO costs Tk 11-12 due to its higher heat value. But when the 34 percent import duty on HFO is added, its power generation cost becomes Tk 15-16 per unit. In the same way, the cost per MMBtu of imported gas is Tk 11-12 and its power generation cost becomes 10-11 due to its higher heat value. But after adding the import duty of 22 percent, the per unit electricity generation cost from gas-fired plants goes up to 13-14 per unit. “If the discrepancies are removed from duty regime, and import duty on all fuels is made uniform at 22 percent, the production cost of electricity from diesel-fired plants will be lower than that of coal-fired power plants,” said Imran Karim, former president of Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA), the trade body representing the interests of private power producers. Read more: Many big industries using illegal gas connections: Nasrul Hamid Karim, also the vice chairman of Confidence Group, a leading firm in private power generation, said the duty should be uniform considering the government’s commitment to support cleaner fuels - coal being the original dirty fuel. Furnace oil of course is no better. “The government will receive more revenue from imported fuels, if the duty on all fuels are equalised,” he added. According to the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s estimate, in the current fiscal 2022-23, the power and energy sector will require over Tk 23,000 in subsidies to cover its losses. Of this, the power sector will require Tk 18,000 crore while around Tk 6000 crore would go on primary fuels. Read more: New PSC: Petrobangla awaits final nods to invite int’l bidding for offshore blocks Earlier, the loss in the sector was estimated much higher at over Tk 70,000 crore due to the excessive price hike of gas, coal and petroleum fuel following the war in Ukraine that began in February 2022. But after the enhancement of fuel prices on the domestic market by more than 40 percent pn average and power tariff by more than 15 percent, the losses came down and subsequently the requirement for subsidy was also reduced to around Tk 23,000 crore, said officials at the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources. Private power producers claim that if the import duty on coal and furnace oil were made the same as that on gas, i.e. 22 percent, it would reduce overall costs and thus reduce the subsidy as well. “Because, the power generation by furnace oil-based plants will automatically go down and it will ultimately have an impact on the overall tariff structure in the power sector by seeping through to both the wholesale and retail levels,” said an IPP plant operator. Read more: Petrobangla initiates move to end foreign company’s monopoly in pre-paid gas metering system Power Cell director general Mohammad Hossain said that both coal and furnace oil are dirty fuels, so by the IPPs’ logic, the import duty on these two fuels should be higher than on gas - not uniform. “The import duty on coal and HFO should be equal and import duty on gas could be comparatively lower as it is the cleanest of the three,” he said.
JENESYS Reporting Session 2022 held in Dhaka
Embassy of Japan held a reporting session for “JENESYS2022” participants at the ambassador’s residence in Dhaka on Monday (May 22, 2023). JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) is an initiative by the Government of Japan to promote people-to-people exchange programmes between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, according to a press release. Read more: 2023 is the 1st year for next 50 years of Dhaka-Tokyo relations: Ambassador Iwama The programme started accepting Bangladeshi participants in 2015. Approximately 23,000 young people have participated in this programme in the Indo-Pacific region since then. This year, 19 youths participated and visited Japan under two themes, namely, “Agriculture” and “Energy’’. In Monday’s reporting session, the participants shared their experiences from their visits to Japan and exchanged opinions with government officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Ministry of Energy, Power and Mineral Resources of Bangladesh, and with staff of Embassy of Japan, the release said. Read more: India’s NCGG completes training programme for 58th batch of Bangladeshi civil servants Ambassador Iwama hoped that this year’s JENESYS participants would reflect on their knowledge to promote mutual trust and lay the foundation for friendship and cooperation between Japan and Bangladesh, it added.
Ilisha-1 country’s 29th gas field: Nasrul Hamid
Ilisha-1 in Bhola district was announced to be the 29th gas field of Bangladesh where substantial gas was found recently. “We believe, Ilisha-1 has a reserve of 200 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas. The entire Bhola area, including this one, has a reserve of 3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas,” State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told reporters today (May 22, 2023) during a briefing at his Dhaka residence while formally announcing the discovery of the gas field. He said this is great news for the people of the country. Also Read: 3 strikes for Ilisha-1: another drill test finds gas Ilisha-1 is located in an union in Bhola district, about 182 km from the capital city Dhaka. On March 8 this year, Ilisha-1 excavation started in the Maler Hat area of Ilisha union under Bhola Sadar upazila and the drilling was completed successfully on April 24 through the Drill Stem Test in three levels at a depth of 3,475 metres. The state minister said earlier that gas was found in different wells under Bhola north and Bhola south structures. He said a plan is being prepared to bring gas from the Bhola area to Dhaka through a pipeline where many industries are facing a nagging gas shortage. Read more: Chevron inks deals to dig more wells at expanded Bibiyana gas field A pre-feasibility was conducted and now work is in progress for conducting a feasibility study on the issue, he noted. Nasrul Hamid said it will take about 3 years to bring the gas from Bhola to Dhaka through a pipeline. Initially, he said, a private company has signed a contract to bring a total of 25 mmcfd gas from Bhola through a big trailer. Primarily, it will start with 5 mmcfd. He informed that the government has a plan to create a ring-fence of pipeline covering Bhola, Barishal and Dhaka to use the gas for this region while another ring-fence will be created covering the districts in Dhaka, Sylhet and others. Read more: 2nd phase of directional drilling at Srikail North Gas field starts He said the commercial value of the gas in Bhola will be Tk 6500 crore if calculated in local value and Tk 26000 crore in the value of gas being imported. Nasrul Hamid said the Ilisha-1 gas field’s discovery was announced after completion of necessary drilling and other works. Currently, about 2300 mmcfd gas is being produced from 22 gas fields in the country, while about 700 mmcfd gas is being imported to meet the demand of about 4000 mmcfd, leaving a deficit of about 1000 mmcfd. Apart from Ilisha-1, two Bhola gas fields have around 200 mmcf production capacity, while the production hovers between 80-85 mmcf. Read more: China’s Sinopec to drill for gas at Well No-10 of Sylhet Gas Field Therefore, around 120 mmcf surplus capacity remains unused in the eight wells of the Shahbazpur and Bhola gas fields. Due to the lack of pipeline and transmission facilities, the government of Bangladesh was unable to supply the surplus gas from the Bhola field to energy-hungry industrial zones in Dhaka and elsewhere.
Bangladesh needs $170 billion investment in power,energy sector by 2041: Nasrul
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said that Bangladesh requires $170 billion dollars investment in the power and energy sector by 2041. He said while addressing a session on "Strengthening the Future of Economic Growth of Bangladesh" at the high-level discussion meeting titled "U.S.-Bangladesh Economic Partnership: Shared Vision for Smart Growth" organized by the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC on Tuesday. “There are profitable investment opportunities in different sectors and sub-sectors like LNG, renewable energy, smart grid, smart distribution, electric vehicle infrastructure, onshore and offshore hydrocarbon exploration,” said the state minister. Read More: Investment in Bangladesh will bring huge success: PM Hasina to Japanese businesses He also said that upgrading gas infrastructure, setting up petrochemical industries, reducing GHG emissions, smart gas distribution are among the sectors where US companies can invest and the government will provide special incentives to foreign investors. He said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given the vision of building a smart Bangladesh to build the golden Bangladesh as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “It needs financial investment as well as technical and knowledge-based cooperation to realise the vision,” he said adding that investment should come not only from multilateral development agencies, but also from the public and private sectors. Read More: Momen due to leave for US Friday with trade and investment high on agenda Eric Walker, president of Chevron's Bangladesh office and Dr. John Ardil, vice president of Exxon Mobil also addressed the event.
Bangladesh open to Qatar’s investment in energy sector: PM tells Doha Investment Summit
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday (March 06, 2023) urged oil-rich Qatar to make investment in Bangladesh’s energy sector, especially in renewable energy. “We remain open to investment proposals in our infrastructures and logistics sectors. We believe there is scope for Qatari investment in the energy sector, including in renewable energy,” she said. The premier was addressing the Doha Investment Summit 2023 Titled ‘The Rise of Bengal Tiger: Potentials of Trade and Investment in Bangladesh’ held at Grand Ballroom of The St. Regis Doha. She mentioned that Bangladesh could benefit from Qatar’s expertise in offshore gas exploration and energy distribution system. Read more: PM Sheikh Hasina arrives in Qatar to join UN conference on LDCs She urged the business people from Qatar to look at certain thrust sectors in Bangladesh and invited a delegation of Qatari business people to visit the country soon. “I also urge the non-resident Bangladeshis based in Qatar to invest in Bangladesh. We need your participation in our nation-building efforts,” she said. PM Hasina said that Bangladesh’s bilateral relations with Qatar should be readjusted based on a mutually beneficial economic partnership as there are immense untapped potentials. “Bangladesh and Qatar are bound by strong brotherly ties and friendship. Our two nations need to reposition our ties based on a mutually beneficial economic partnership,” she said. Read More: PM in Doha: LDCs need 5 key support from dev partners She also put emphasis on setting up a Joint Committee on Trade and Investment and a Joint Business Forum to bring private sectors on a single platform. “Our two governments should work on setting up a Joint Committee on Trade and Investment. There should also be a Joint Business Forum to bring our private sectors on a single platform,” she said. She mentioned that Bangladesh’s agricultural growth also creates scope for cooperation in agro-processing industries, with buy-back arrangements to Qatar. “We have plans to set up three special tourism zones, where Qatar can engage in both real estate and hospitality sectors,” she said. Read More: PM meets Guterres in Doha, discusses Ukraine, Rohingyas The PM said that Bangladesh aspires to have at least ten Unicorns in ‘Smart Bangladesh’, and country’s vibrant start-up scene is ready to draw Qatari investment. In addition, she said, Qatari investors can consider portfolio investment in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission is working hard to further develop our capital markets. We have taken several steps to establish our bond market on a solid footing. We are soon going to include derivative products in our capital markets,” she said. PM Hasina said that the disruptions in international fuel market due to the war in Ukraine have pushed countries like Bangladesh into a hard spot. Read More: Energy-rich Qatar faces fast-rising climate risks at home In order to meet the growing energy need, she said, Bangladesh is interested in increasing its LNG imports from Qatar. She also requested Qatar to explore opportunities for increasing import of goods from Bangladesh. She said that Bangladesh is now well on track to graduate from the UN LDC Group in 2026 which has been achieved by 168 million people through their hard work and commitment. She said that just before the pandemic, country’s economy reached a growth rate of 8.15 percent, and even during the pandemic, it posted a growth rate of 6.94 percent. Read More: PM urges South Korea for more investments in Bangladesh She said that Bangladesh is now the world’s 35th largest economy with a GDP of USD 460 billion while projected to become the 24th largest by the first half of the 2030s. “It was during my first tenure in 1996-2001 that our government fully opened up the door of trade and business for the private sector. Now our private sector is flourishing and our government is working as a facilitator. Together, we hope to take Bangladesh to the next level of development,” the PM said. Sheikh Hasina mentioned that Bangladesh has one of the most liberal investment regimes in the region. She mentioned that the incentives being offered include tax holiday, concessionary duty on machinery import, remittance of royalty, technical know-how and fees, allowing 100 percent foreign equity, unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation facilities of dividend and capital on exit, etc. Read More: Eswatini wants trade, investment promotion with Bangladesh “The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is offering a number of services to foreign investors under one roof.” She mentioned that the government is setting up 100 Special Economic Zones with coordinated facilities and there are so far five country-specific Economic Zones in the making. “We are investing heavily in our infrastructures fit for a regional connectivity and logistics hub. Our mega-projects like the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge, the Karnaphuli river tunnel, the Matarbari Deep Sea Port, the expanded Third Terminal at Dhaka International Airport, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the Metro-rail system in Dhaka all testify to our determined march forward.” Hasina mentioned that the government has already brought the entire nation under electricity and internet coverage while country’s first communication satellite Bangabandhu-I has opened up new horizons. Read More: Bangladesh, South Africa discuss ways to boost trade and investment “We have a large pool of easily trainable workforce available at a competitive wage<” she said, adding “Bangladesh has got the world’s second largest community of registered IT freelancers.” She mentioned that Bangladesh has made big leaps in developing its digital backbone down to the remote areas. “Our boys and girls are preparing themselves to join the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” She said that the government is gradually building 38 Hi-tech Parks, with opening for foreign investment. She said that government’s vision now is to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041, drawing strength from a knowledge-based society. Read More: It is high time to work together on more projects, investment areas: Chinese Envoy “Bangladesh offers to be a willing partner in realizing the Qatar National Vision 2030. We can equip our workforce with knowledge and skills to cater to the advanced employment market in Qatar,” she said. She reaffirmed her commitment to fulfill Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib’s dream of building a ‘Sonar Bangla’ and said that she is confident the Qatari leadership and people will continue to stand by Bangladesh as they did in the past decades. “I encourage our business peoples to keep adding new feathers to our excellent bilateral relations,” she said. Chairman of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission Prof Shibli Rubayat Ul Islam and Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Lokman Hosaain Miah made two separate presentations focusing on potentials of trade and investment in Bangladesh. Read More: Bangladesh-Turkiye Business Forum launched to usher in new era of economic cooperation Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in partnership with the Foreign Affairs Ministry arranged the event.
Rohingya response: Sweden announces $7.6m for energy, environment programme
At the end of a two-day visit to Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexandra Berg von Linde announced her country's latest contribution of $7.6 million for the energy and environment programme of the Rohingya response. The contribution will support the provision of cleaner cooking energy to Rohingya refugees, the continued rehabilitation of ecosystems and the facilitation of enhanced skills development for refugees and Bangladeshi host communities. These activities are part of the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy Plus, phase 2 programme (SAFE+2), a joint UN program which brings together the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme (WFP). "It has been impressive to see the positive impact that the SAFE+2 programme has had on Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities," said Alexandra. "As a substantial amount of forest in the Cox's Bazar area had initially been impacted following the large Rohingya influx in 2017, it is good to see that through a programme like SAFE+2, the area around the Cox's Bazar refugee camps has largely been regreened and reforested." "This contribution from the government and the people of Sweden will allow us to provide some 190,000 refugee households with liquified petroleum gas (LPG). This cleaner cooking fuel improves refugees' well-being and living conditions, as it reduces smoke inhalation and prevents gender-based violence and other protection risks related to the collection of firewood from forests," said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR representative in Bangladesh. "It will allow for a successful rehabilitation of the environment and ecosystems of the area and substantially reduce CO2 emissions." The distribution of LPG and fuel-efficient cooking equipment enables an energy transition away from firewood and associated deforestation. The programme, including its phase 1 component, has so far prevented the emission of over 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide. The programme's impact is being enhanced through replanting, reforestation, and the improvement of watersheds. The joint programme also supports the resilience of vulnerable refugees and host communities, through skills development projects related to environmental improvements and agriculture. Sweden has supported the SAFE+ programme since it was first initiated in 2019 and then led by IOM. SAFE+2 was launched as a joint UN programme in July 2022, building on the successes and learnings from the first phase. The second phase of the programme is currently supported by the governments of Sweden and Canada. As it has been close to six years since over 700,000 Rohingya refugees were forced to flee violence and persecution in Myanmar, the Rohingya situation in Bangladesh is now officially considered a protracted refugee situation. Currently, some 920,000 Rohingya refugees remain hosted in densely populated camps in the Cox's Bazar area, with an additional 30,000 refugees living on Bhasan Char. Read more: US Counselor Chollet due Tuesday; Rohingya issue likely to get priority
Retail gas prices hiked for power plants, industries and commercial users with effect from Feb 1
The government of Bangladesh has raised the retail gas prices for public, private and captive power plants and also for industries and commercial users with effect from February 1. As per the new government announcement on Wednesday (January 18, 2023), the gas prices have been increased by almost three times for public and private power plants while almost double for captive power plants and industries, and significantly hiked for commercial users. However, prices for household consumers, CNG-run for motor vehicles and tea estates were kept unchanged. Read more: BERC (amendment) Ordinance placed in JS allowing adjustment of gas, electricity prices without public hearing The Energy and Mineral Resources Division set the prices through a gazette notification issued on Wednesday applying the new amendment to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act, which empowered the government to set all kinds of energy prices bypassing the regulator’s jurisdictions at any time. As per the gazette notification, the public and private power plants including the IPP and rental power plants will pay gas price at Tk 14 per unit (each cubic metre) instead of previous price of Tk 5.02 while the captive power plants, small power plants and commercial power plants will pay Tk 30 per unit instead of previous price of Tk 16. The large, medium and small industries will pay Tk 30 per unit against the previous price of Tk 11.98 for large, Tk11.78 for medium and Tk 10.78 for small, cottage and other industries. Read more: Pay production cost to get smooth supply of gas, electricity: PM Hasina tells industries The commercial users of gas like hotels and restaurants will pay Tk 30.50 instead of previous Tk 26.64 per unit. The household consumers will continue to pay Tk 18 per unit for metered burners while Tk 990 for single burners and Tk 1080 for double burners each month. The CNG price remained unchanged at Tk 43 for the motor vehicles, while tea estates will pay Tk 11.93 per unit as usual, said the gazette notification. Read More: New gas found in Bhola field amid crisis Earlier, the BERC had raised the average gas price by 22.78 percent for the retail consumers, except for CNG-run vehicles, in the country with effect back from June 1 in 2022.
Japan reverts to max nuclear power to tackle energy, climate
Japan on Thursday adopted a new policy promoting greater use of nuclear energy to ensure a stable power supply amid global fuel shortages and to reduce carbon emissions — a major reversal of its phase-out plan since the Fukushima crisis. The new policy says Japan must maximize the use of existing nuclear reactors by restarting as many of them as possible and prolonging the operating life of old reactors beyond their 60-year limit, and by developing next-generation reactors to replace them. Anti-nuclear sentiment and safety concerns rose sharply in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and restart approvals have since come slowly under stricter safety standards. Utility companies have applied for restarts at 27 reactors in the past decade. Seventeen have passed safety checks and only 10 have resumed operations. That was in line with Japan's earlier plan to phase out nuclear energy by 2030. In a reversal, the new policy says nuclear power provides stable output and serves “an important role as a carbon-free baseload energy source in achieving supply stability and carbon neutrality” and pledges to “sustain use of nuclear power into the future." The Economy and Industry Ministry has drafted a plan to allow extensions every 10 years for reactors after 30 years of operation, while also permitting utilities to subtract offline periods in calculating reactors’ operational life beyond the current 60-year limit. The plan was approved on Wednesday by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan's nuclear watchdog, paving the way for the policy to be adopted. New safety inspection rules still need to be compiled into law and approved by Parliament. Read more: Policy, climate, war make 2022 'pivot year' for clean energy Most nuclear reactors in Japan are more than 30 years old. Four reactors that have operated for more than 40 years have received permission to operate, and one is currently online. The policy paper says Japan will also push for the development and construction of “next-generation innovative reactors” with safer features to replace about 20 reactors now set for decommissioning. Thursday’s adoption of the new policy comes less than four months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida launched the “GX (Green Transformation) Implementation Council” of outside experts and ministers to “consider all options” to compile a new policy that addresses global fuel shortages amid Russia’s war on Ukraine and seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The council also adopted plans to make renewables Japan's main energy source and further promote hydrogen and ammonia as well as off-shore wind power and other forms of energy to promote decarbonization, supply resilience and economic security. The regulation authority’s commissioner, Shinichi Yamanaka, told a news conference the new safety rules requiring operational permits every decade after 30 years will be safer than a current one-time 20-year extension option for 40-year-old reactors. Takeo Kikkawa, an economics professor at the International University of Japan and an expert on energy, said utility operators under the new policy could keep using old equipment instead of investing in new technology or renewables. He also said prolonging the operational life of old reactors is unsafe. “Naturally, we should aim for newer technology and use it safely. Therefore, extending reactors' lifespans is an undesirable move,” Kikkawa recently told a talk show. Read more: UN climate deal: Calamity cash, but no new emissions cuts The new policy does not help address imminent supply shortages because reactors cannot be restarted as quickly as the government hopes due to operators' delayed safety upgrades and other obstacles including local consent, experts say. Nuclear energy accounts for less than 7% of Japan’s energy supply, and achieving the government's goal of raising its share to 20-22% by fiscal 2030 will require about 27 reactors, from the current 10 — a target some say is not achievable. Experts say developing next-generation reactors involves huge costs and uncertain prospects. Kenichi Oshima, a Ryukoku University professor of environmental economy and energy policy, said some of what the government calls “innovative” reactors are not so different from existing technology and that prospects for nuclear fusion and other next-generation reactors are largely uncertain and not achievable anytime soon. The regulation authority came under fire Wednesday after revelations by a civil group that a few of its experts had discussed details with industry ministry officials before the watchdog was officially asked to consider a rule change, despite their compulsory independence. Despite the failure and closure of the Monju plutonium-burning reactor, Japan insists on continuing with spent-fuel reprocessing at the trouble-prone Rokkasho plant and nuclear fuel recycling, which has created a stockpile of excess plutonium and drawn international concerns over its nuclear safeguards. The Rokkasho plant recently announced its 26th postponement of its launch target to 2024 from 2022. Opponents say nuclear power is not flexible and not even cheaper than renewables when final waste management and necessary safety measures are added, and that it can cause immeasurable damage in an accident or in conflict, as in Russia’s attacks on a Ukrainian nuclear plant. Ruiko Muto, a survivor of the Fukushima disaster, called the new policy “extremely disappointing.” She added: “The Fukushima disaster is not over yet and the government seems to have already forgotten what happened.”
PMO collecting data to tackle energy crisis in next summer
Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been collecting necessary information and data from two divisions and their associate bodies in the power and energy sector to make some policy decisions on power, gas, and petroleum prices. According to official sources, the PMO will soon reconvene a recently postponed meeting to discuss the issues where dealing with a tough possible situation in the coming summer might top the agenda. They said that the PMO had convened a meeting on December 15 to discuss the overall situation in the power and energy sector. “But at the last moment, the meeting was postponed”, said a top official in the Power Division adding that a new principal secretary to the Prime Minister and also a new cabinet secretary took office on the day for which the meeting was postponed. Read: Dhaka seeks Riyadh's support to meet energy needs “We hope the suspended meeting will be called soon where the two top bureaucrats may attend”, he said. The issue of power tariff enhancement in the retail consumer level will get a top priority in the proposed meeting”, said a senior official of the largest organisation in the power sector, preferring not to be quoted because of its sensitivity. Power Cell director general Mohammad Hossain said that his organisation has also provided necessary data to the PMO and the Power Division as per their requirements. Official sources said the PMO is collecting data and information against the backdrop of the government’s plan to increase power tariff at retail consumer level to cover a huge flaw in the power sector’s revenue collection. Read: Ensuring access to electricity at an affordable cost is govt’s prime goal: PM’s Energy Advisor Because of the purchase of electricity from the private sector at higher rates and sell it to consumers at lower rates, the loss of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), state-owned principal organisation, was estimated to be Tk 48,000 crore in the current fiscal year 2022-23. The officials said the recent hike of about 20 percent in bulk power tariff, effective from December 1, might reduce the loss by only Tk 5000 crore. To cover the remaining loss, all the six distribution companies were asked by the Power Division to submit their respective proposals to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC). They already submitted a proposal to the BERC to increase the retail power tariff by about 20 percent. Read: Cabinet approves amendment to let govt decide energy price without BERC But the BERC needs to follow a public hearing to take any decision on the issue and the whole process needs about 90 days while the government is in urgent need to increase the retail power tariff. In such a situation, the Cabinet on November28 approved an amendment to BERC Ordinance 2022 to empower the government to set fuel tariff on its own under special circumstances without waiting for the commission’s public hearing and decision. Now the BERC is in a dilemma whether it will move to hold a public hearing to adjust retail power tariff or the government on its own takes decision on retail power tariff enhancement. Officials said the PMO office wants to learn about the entire situation so that it can give an instruction to the Power Division to take the future decision. Read More: Mitsubishi Power to continue support Bangladesh power industry amid growing energy need The officials also said that a directive is also expected from the PMO meeting to tackle the situation in the next summer, which normally starts from February 15 with an extra load in power supply. Normally an extra load of about 3000 MW in power supply is assumed to be coming from the agriculture irrigation sector in the coming summer, which may continue until May next year. The fasting month of Ramada, which will begin from the first week of April next year will also put another load of 3000 MW. But due to the primary fuel crisis, the government is under pressure to increase the power generation and a big deficit is apprehended in the coming year, officials said. Read More: Europe can’t put its energy needs first while requesting India to act otherwise: Jaishankar All these issues are expected to be discussed in the PMO meeting where the State Minister and the PM’s energy advisor are likely to be present, they said. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a meeting recently said that the government supplies electricity to everyone at subsidised prices though the production cost is much higher. But it will not be possible to provide electricity at lower prices considering the global recession, she said. "The actual cost will have to be paid," she said, adding that the price of gas has increased in the international market. Read More: Bulk power tariff hike won’t affect retail consumers right now: Nasrul Hamid "Everyone, including businessmen in the country, will have to exercise austerity and will have to be ready to pay the money spent on the (increased) price of gas and transport cost. Otherwise, we will not be able to provide electricity. If you want (electricity), you will have to pay the real prices," she added. The PM said costs of electricity, gas, water, and fuel can be reduced by exercising austerity. Currently, the installed power generation capacity of Bangladesh is over 25,000 MW while the generation was limited to 12,000 MW because of the primary fuel crisis.