January 27, 2023, 8:28 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-01-18 18:01:02 BdST

Operation of 1,320MW Payra plant likely to face closure over coal crisis

Operation of 1,320 MW coal-fired Payra power plant is likely to face closure as banks have declined to open letter of credit (LC) to import coal due to the dollar crisis.

“We may not continue our operation from February next if things are not settled”, Shah Abdul Moula, plant manager of the Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt.) Limited (BCPCL), said.

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. 

The plant manager said that the plant is currently operating one unit having 660 MW while another 660 MW unit remained closed.

“We have planned to operate both the units at a time from January 19”, Maula said, adding that the two units could run with the current stocks of coal until the end of the current month.

“But if the new consignment of coal is not available, we have to shut down both the units from the first day of February next” he said.

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.

The power plant has to spend about $ 5-6 million every month to import the required coal.

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, Abdul Maula said that the BCPCL authority has already communicated the issue to the Power Division to take necessary measures.

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 has 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.

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.

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 3,200MW in 2009, according to the data.

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