Bangladesh is keen on buying renewable power from India

Bangladesh is keen on buying renewable power from India

India’s neighbour Bangladesh is exploring the possibility of expanding electricity trade between the two countries using capacity generated from renewable sources.

“I have approached my Indian counterparts on whether we can develop some system to cooperate in renewable energy so that we could be buying electricity from India as we already have transmission lines,” Ahmad Kaikaus, Secretary, Power Divisions, Ministry of Power of Bangladesh, told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the AIIB third annual meeting in Mumbai.

Currently, Bangladesh brings 500 MW through Bheramara-Bherampur inter-connectivity and is readying to bring another 500 MW through the same transmission line. It is also importing 160 MW electricity using Tripura-Comilla interconnection.

Upgrading grids

As Bangladesh aims to provide 100 per cent household access to electricity by July 2019, the country is actively growing its generation capacity as well as investing in grid expansions and upgrade, Kaikaus said. Bangladesh’s installed capacity, including captive plants, currently stands at 18,700 MW, although the highest amount generated so far is 11,000 MW, he added.

Though Bangladesh Power Development Board’s (BPDB) expansion plan aims to achieve 24,000 MW capacity by 2021, transmission and distribution constraints are among the main challenges. Bangladesh government is now implementing projects for grid upgradation and expansion amounting to $3-4 billion, even while looking at privatising some of the grid areas, Kaikaus said.

According to Kaikaus, wind energy could be an opportunity for growing the country’s generation capacity fast. “We have done wind assessment recently and they said there are possibilities in some coastal areas, so we are going to explore that,” he said adding unlike in India, in Bangladesh, wind is the only renewable energy source that could be used effectively. The country’s experiments with hydro and solar energy have been rather unsuccessful because of geoclimatic reasons and high cost of land.

All this provides additional opportunities for Indian power sector players for whom Bangladesh has already emerged as a happening spot. However, the flip side is India’s own power space growth has been rather muted with no new coal or gas-based capacity expected to be set up in the country.

With Bangladesh’s GDP growth projected to expand to 7.65 percent in fiscal 2017-18, the energy sector is likely to benefit the most from $10 billion investments and $5 billion credit lines announced by India for Bangladesh during the last year’s visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India.

In 2017 alone, several Indian majors announced bagging orders in Bangladesh. Adani Power has inked a $2-billion pact with BPDB to supply electricity from its upcoming 1,600-MW plant at Godda in Jharkhand.

RPower’s $1-b pact

Shapoorji Pallonji Group has signed up to implement a 22-MW power plant in the Bhola district of Bangladesh as an independent power producer (IPP) after another Indian player, Lanco Infratech, which has been referred to NCLT last year, failed to implement the project.

Reliance Power has signed a $1-billion agreement with Bangladesh’s Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry for the first phase (750 MW) of the 3,000-MW LNG-based combined cycle power plant at Meghnaghat. It has later awarded its arm Reliance Infrastructure an EPC contract for the same plant. In a separate development, Reliance Infrastructure won another major contract for building a 500-MMSCFD floating storage re-gasification unit based integrated LNG terminal project at Kutubdia Island

In the EPC space, L&T in consortium with Samsung C&T Corporation of South Korea has won a $250-million engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contract for setting up Bibiyana South 400-MW Combined Cycle Power Plant Project.

Another 400-MW EPC project for Marubeni Corporation of Japan is now under implementation. Last year, L&T has also commissioned two gas-based power projects in Bangladesh — 360-MW Bheramara plant and 225-MW Sikalbaha plant.

India’s public sector BHEL had bagged a ₹10,000-crore contract last year for setting up a thermal power plant from Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company, a 50:50 joint venture of NTPC and Bangladesh Power Development Board.

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