The 225-megawatt Shikalbaha power plant in Chittagong will run at full blast from next month, feeding an additional 75 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid.
Located in Patiya Upazila near Karnaphuli river, the combined-cycle dual-fuel power plant is expected to partially reduce the electricity crunch in the commercially important greater Chittagong region.
The plant is already channelling 150mw electricity into the national grid with the inception of its single cycle back in May this year.
Now, an additional 75 megawatts of power is going to be added with the formal commencing of the combined cycle on October 02, Power Division officials said.
Despite its huge economic potential, the greater Chittagong region has long faced an acute power shortage due to inadequate power-generation capacity. Even, the port city itself often faces hours of load shedding during peak hours.
In this context, the Power Development Board took up a project back in 2012 to construct this dual-fuel power plant. The project was also later approved by Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in February 2013.
The total cost of this major power project is around Tk 20.22 billion. Of this total amount, US$53 million has come from Kuwait while US$30 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development, US$ 31.4 million has been channelled through Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and US$ 53.33 million through Saudi Fund for Development.
When contacted, project officials concerned said they are on track to start full-scale operation of the power plant on the scheduled date.
However, they also noted that the ongoing shortage of gas supply from Karnaphuli Gas Company Limited means that the power plant would have to run on diesel instead of gas when it goes into full-fledged operation in October.
"Until now, we have run the power plant with the gas coming from KGDCL. However, starting from this Thursday, KGDCL has halted their gas supply to us as they have to channel necessary fuel to Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company instead," Project Director Motaher Hossain told FE, adding: "Now, we are running completely on diesel."
Talking to the FE, KGDCL officials said that they have to divert their gas supply to KAFCO as the fertiliser company resumed its operation last week to feed the upcoming demand for fertiliser across the country.
"With the Boro season approaching, KAFCO needs to be running at its fullest capacity to meet the upcoming demand for fertiliser", a KGDCL official said.
Project officials at Shikalbaha observed that although the continuation of gas supply would have been a boost for the power plant, the halting of the same is unlikely to have any major impact on their commissioning date.
"Since, it is a dual-fuel power plant, it is designed to run on diesel when gas is in short supply," Shikalbaha Project Director Hossain said.
"We have started running on diesel since this Thursday and hopefully things will be ok when we go for full-fledged operation in early October," he added.
With the addition of Shikalbaha dual-fuel power plant, the total number of the power plants in Chittagong PDB zone is rising to 18 while total generation capacity will increase to 2287.7 MWs.
The total number of power plants in the country currently stands at 111 with an aggregate generation capacity of 15,821 MWs. The government has a target to increase the power-generation capacity to 24,000 megawatts by 2021-the year when Bangladesh celebrates its golden jubilee.