Wind power in Bangladesh: The government plans to install 400 MW

Bangladesh being a tropical country does have a lot of wind flow at different seasons of the year. However, there are some windy locations in which wind energy projects could be feasible.

A total of 3.34 lakh Solar Home System (SHS) installed in the rural and urban areas in Bangladesh are producing 18MW of electricity everyday. The SHS covers at least 1.7 million people mainly in remote rural areas across the country, Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (IDCOL) Director Farmanul Islam recently said at a seminar.

The government plans to install 10 lakh SHS by 2012 to produce 54 MW. SHS has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 75,000 tonnes a year in the country, the IDCOL official said.

Besides, the government plans to introduce SHS in all the public offices and educational institutions across the country soon. As part of this, the Power Division has already installed SHS at a portion of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Power Division.

Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has already prepared a guideline in this regard. To promote solar energy, the government will provide special concession to businessmen to install solar manufacturing industries.

The government plans to install 400 MW capacity of wind energy plant at seashore area of Patenga in Chittagong. A private firm has already expressed its interest in this regard.

The installation of mini and micro hydro power plant is also being contemplated. A Russian firm has already met with PM’s Power and energy adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Bir Bikram to install the power plant by using river and costal wave in the country. The Power Division has already formed a team to conduct the feasibility study to install such power plant.

Country’s lone Wind Farm Power Plant at Kutubdia produces between 600 KW and 700 KW of electricity daily.

Nowadays, the "developed" world gets most of its energy from fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – along with nuclear power and hydroelectric dams. The era of easily accessible fossil fuels is likely to exhaust . To meet energy demand different countries are exploring alternative sources of energy to meet the situation.

The Power Cell has recommended to the government installation of a 100 MW wind power plant in Chittagong. The Cell made the recommendation after the Power Division had asked its research and planning wing to make a plan for installation of wind turbines in the country for generating electricity to reduce dependency on conventional energy.

Officials of the Power Cell said in the proposal that they recommended carrying out a detailed feasibility study on installation of the wind farm in Chittagong.

‘In fact, the cell made the recommendations after scrutinising a proposal of a US-based company to install a 400 MW wind-based power plant at Patenga in Chittagong. We pointed that initially the power plant should be of 100 MW capacity and installed away from Patengna, preferably at Sitakunda,’ said an official.

He said the power plant should be installed through inviting open tender as many companies are now interested in setting up wind-based power plant in Bangladesh.

Earlier, in June, adviser to the prime minister, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, told reporters that they had asked the Power Cell to make recommendations on installation of a 50-MW wind-based power plant.

The official said the installation cost of a 100MW wind-based power plant could be around Tk 1,000 crore to Tk 1,500 crore while the production cost of each unit of electricity would be around Tk 10 to Tk 12 because of the huge capital.

‘Although there is no fuel cost in generating electricity from a wind mill, the high capital cost pushes up the price of electricity. As wind mill is environment-friendly many people opt for wind power. The per unit production cost of gas-based electricity is around Tk 2 while it is Tk 8 to Tk 10 in oil-based power,’ he said.

Although Bangladesh has been considering installation of wind-base power plants, experts earlier found that wind speed in most parts of the country was not suitable for large wind power plants.

Two 1MW wind turbines have so far been installed at Muhuri at Feni and in Cox’s Bazar but they are not very successful in generating electricity regularly.

Different studies including that of the Local Government Engineering Department showed that annual wind speed in the coastal belt ranges from 2.96 metres per second to 4.54 m/sec at Kuakata.

Power officials, however, said wind blows at an average speed of 5.5 to 9.5 m/s at 20m above the ground in some places of the country including Chittagong almost throughout the year.

‘With this wind speed and the new technology, it is now possible to generate large amount of electricity although earlier we believed the wind speed should be over 10 m/s for generating electricity,’ said an official.

The country is facing a shortfall of nearly 2,000 MW of power a day due to the limited capacity of electricity generation.

Bangladesh’s more than 80 per cent power is generated using natural gas but with the current shortage of gas, the government is looking for alternative energy sources like coal, fuel oils, wind and solar.