Rampal may start power supply tonight

Bagerhat’s Rampal thermal power plant may resume production on Wednesday night after a month of shutdown due to coal crisis. The authorities have made all kinds of preparations for this.

Syed Ekram Ullah, Managing Director of Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL), which is responsible for the construction and management of Rampal thermal power plant, told Prothom Alo this morning, “We have made all kinds of preparations to start production quickly. If all goes well, electricity will be supplied to the national grid from the center tonight.

Officials of the power department hope that the ongoing load shedding in the country will stop once the Rampal power plant is commissioned.

The two-unit power plant with a capacity of 1,320 MW has been built with the joint investment of Bangladesh and India. After almost 10 years of the agreement, commercial electricity supply started from the first unit of Rampal power plant on December 23 last year. But due to lack of coal, the production of the power plant stopped from January 14 this year. Basically, the inability to open letters of credit in the dollar-crisis led to complications with coal imports. This led to a shortage of coal.

A source of Rampal power plant says that on February 9, a ship from Indonesia arrived in Mongla with 30 thousand tons of coal. Apart from this, another ship with 55 thousand tons of coal is scheduled to arrive in the country on February 18.

Two responsible officials of Rampal power plant told Prothom Alo that it takes 5 thousand tons of coal per day to generate electricity from one unit of the power plant. As of now there is only six days of coal. The next ship will arrive at the country’s port before this coal is exhausted.

According to Power Development Board (PDB) sources, oil-fired power plants are running less in the country. Gas-based power plants are also unable to operate at full speed. In the meantime, the Rampal power plant was suddenly shut down, causing a shortfall in power supply. Due to this, loadshedding has to be done on average for one hour every day.

PDB has to be informed before commissioning of any power plant. Then PDB coordinates it with the electricity generation schedule.

PDB Member (Production) SM Wazed Ali Sardar told Prothom Alo this morning that the Rampal power plant is expected to be commissioned tonight.

Rampal power station has two units of 660 MW capacity. The second unit is scheduled to be commissioned in April.

Sources of Rampal power plant say that if the two units of the power plant are commissioned, 10,000 tons of coal will be required per day. At present they have a purchase order of 6 lakh tonnes of coal. A top business group of the country’s private sector has received an order for another 6 million tonnes of coal by participating in the newly called tender. They have been supplying coal to this center since the beginning. With 6 million tons of coal, electricity can be generated at the Rampal center for the next three years. These coals are being brought from Indonesia.

After the commissioning of the first unit, at least 450 megawatts of electricity was supplied to Dhaka daily from Rampal. Rampal informed the PDB about the dollar-crunch before the power plant was shut down. Then the power department informed Bangladesh Bank about the matter. Several meetings were held regarding this. After that, the central bank arranged to open the loan.

The Rampal power plant project was taken under the MoU signed between India and Bangladesh in 2010. BIFPCL was formed in 2012. In 2013, this company signed a power purchase agreement with PDB. Construction work was supposed to start in 2016, but it happened in 2017. The center was scheduled to go into commercial production in September 2020. But time and time again only delayed. Environmentalists objected to the construction of this power plant near the Sundarbans from the beginning.