Power crisis and outage : When will a balance be struck?

The demand of electricity has increased due to the severe heat wave and the government according to their ability is trying to step up power generation. But there their efforts and reality do not match.

Though there has been a new record of power production, the deficit has reached record high within the last decade. According to Power Division, Power Development Board (PDB), Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) and National Load Dispatch Centre (NLDC) data more than 3,000 megawatts of load shedding had to be done during the day last Monday.

The electricity generation capacity in the country is almost 26,000 megawatts now. Meanwhile the actual production ranges from 13,000 up to 15,500 megawatts.

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Energy expert M Shamsul Alam said the actual amount of load shedding is way higher. Records from power distribution agencies that reach electricity to customers also showed proof of additional load shedding.

The largest power distribution company, Rural Electrification Board (REB) alone did 3,483 megawatts of load shedding this Monday. Against their total demand of 9,480 megawatts, they were supplied only 5,997 megawatts. That means, REB regions are running with a 37 per cent deficit. There are three to five hours of load shedding in some places.

Prothom Alo reports that the rate of load shedding is the highest in Mymensingh. Next in line comes Chattogram, Rangpur, Cumilla, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal regions along with the districts adjacent to Dhaka.

PDB member (generation) Khandaker Mokammel Hossain also acknowledged that the production from oil-based power plants isn’t up to the targeted level. In that case, the government has to increase the supply of fuel oil.   

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The power crisis is not only hampering the public life in the concerning areas, but also drastically disrupting the industrial and agricultural production. There was a time when load shedding used to be done in houses and markets to ensure power supply in agriculture and industries. Now none of them can be handled properly.

In context of the increasing demand, the government should have focused on how to become self-sufficient in energy. Without doing that, they are just increasing power plants one after another on one hand and they have made the energy sector completely import-dependent on the other.

The government is demanding credit for establishing powers plants having the capacity of 26,000 megawatt; but what's the point of increasing capacity if they can’t even supply the gas and fuel needed to run them?

The target of solar power generation set by the government has not been achieved either. In order to supply electricity to 100 per cent homes, the supply of solar power has to be increased as well.

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In current times, you cannot go about without electricity even for a moment. Just last year the public realised how terrible the situation can get without electricity. While fuel cannot be imported as per demand because of the dollar-crisis, why didn’t the government increase efforts to explore and extract domestic gas and oil resources?

The meteorological department has predicted that there would be rainfall within a day or two. That does not mean that we are getting rid of heat waves anytime soon. The intensity of heat is high in the month of May as well. The government hopes that the first unit of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant would go into production by the end of the current year.

Sitting idle till then, using the excuse of the dollar crisis won’t do. The power supply has to be increased to keep the production running in industrial factories, businesses and agriculture. After all, the economy of the country cannot be taken forward with load shedding.