Private power generation company Doreen Power Generation and Systems Ltd will invest another Tk 10 billion in two power plants to add a total of 400 megawatt (MW) electricity to the national grid by the end of 2018, a top official of the company said.
He also identified shortage of skilled manpower in power sector which, he feared might aggravate further the power situation.
"Now we have seven independent power plants (IPP) with a capacity of 242 MW in different districts and two are under construction with a capacity of 170 MW. In seven IPPs our total investment is worth Tk 1.4 billion and we are presently generating 250 MW," Doreen Power director (Development) Mostafa Moin told the FE an interview recently.
He said they have four gas-based and three heavy fuel oil (HFO) or furnace oil based plants. The upcoming two projects will also be fuel-based.
Of the plants, two are in Feni, one each in Narsingdi and Tangail. All are gas-based. Fuel-based plants are located in Nababganj, Manikganj and Munshiganj. Two such plants are now being installed in Bhairab and Chandpur.
He said six out of the nine IPPs are funded by the World Bank (WB) where Doreen has to comply with certain requirements including installation of energy efficient engines and recycling of exhaust and flue gas desulfurisation (FGD) to mitigate sulphur pollution that requires higher investment.
"We try to be innovative in setting up power plants so that the government gets electricity at a lower rate and we can also maximise our profit. We directly cannot help consumers as our customer is Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB)," he said.
The price of per kilowatt hour electricity is different, said Mr Moin.
"We sell electricity generated by the gas-based plants at Tk 2.28 per unit and that by fuel-based ones at Tk 6.99. The government sells at an average rate of at Tk 5-8 to its consumers," he said.
Doreen Power Generation entered the power sector in 2008 with 77 MW generation capacities. It started with liquid fuel-based plants in 2016. They have a plan to set up coal-based power plants after completing some upcoming projects.
On the criticism about coal fired power plants, specially environment pollution, Mr Moin said the notion that coal based power plants will pollute environment is not right if proper technology is used to reduce the sulphur level. There exists modern technology that includes ultra super critical and flue gas desulfurisation that helps easy reduction of sulphur level in air.
"Coal is the future of power generation at low cost. Everyone should take initiative to use coal as much as possible as there is shortage of gas and furnace oil," said Mr Moin.
Suggesting ways to overcome the present power crisis, he listed the coal-based power plants as the long-term solution.
He said IPPs are a part of short-term solution. Besides, the government's initiative to import LNG for running gas-based plants is also a short term solution.
The government has awarded contracts for setting up eight IPP companies with 2000MW generation capacity. Another tender has been invited for another 1000 MW, he added.
At present a group of 17 IPPs is operating 35 power plants. They have invested about Tk 180 billion to Tk 200 billion.
The government-owned power plants have an installed capacity of 7831 MW and private-owned ones 5124 MW (both IPP and rental) while 600 MW is imported from India.
Regarding the criticism of quick rental power plants Mr Moin said he was not much aware about it as Doreen has never been interested in quick rental power plants.
"The government gave permission for quick rentals as temporary solution as there was no other way to solve power crisis at that time. Now the quick rental power plants which got permission are getting extension with an insignificant contribution," said Mr Moin, adding: No new plants are coming up.
Terming the government support for the private sector investors in power sector as excellent, Mr Moin said Doreen gets service charge for furnace oil import on their own and gets capacity payment for IPP. Such support was necessary for encouraging the private sector for investing in power sector.
Mr Moin, who is very optimistic about the power and energy sector, thinks the scenario will significantly change within next three years.