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POWER
State-owned Ashuganj Power Station Company Ltd (APSCL) on Tuesday signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with a Chinese consortium to build a 400 MW power plant on its premises. As per the contract, the China National Technical Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC) and China National Corporation for Overseas Economic Cooperation (CCOEC) will supply and construct Ashuganj 400 MW combined cycle (East) project at a contract value of US$ 177.76 million (equivalent to Tk 1,473.82 crore) within next 36 months. Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) financed the project along with the Bangladesh government with having APSCL’s own funding.  Addressing the contract signing ceremony at Sonargaon Hotel in the city, State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid said the APSCL will float bonds in the local market to mobilise fund from the general public. He said this will provide the local investors to be partners in the government’s company that will ultimately facilitate the company to be more transparent and accountable to spend its money. Bangladesh is going to celebrate its graduation from LDC to developing country where the country’s power sector had a big role in achieving the success, the minister said. The function, with PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood in the chair, was also addressed by prime minister’s Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, prime minister’s SDG coordinator Abul Kalam Azad and power division secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus and managing director of APSCL Engr. AMM Sazzadur Rahman.
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COAL
State-owned Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) signed a Tk 167 crore deal with a foreign consortium to conduct a feasibility study at Digipara coal mine to develop a mining area for extracting about three million tonnes coal a year. BCMCL secretary Md Abul Kasem Pradhania, German based MIBRAG Consulting International GmbH project manager Amir Khandaker, FUGRO Consult GmbH project director Rolf Baltes and Runge Pincook Minaroo Limited of Australia representative Simon Askey Doran signed the feasibility deal on behalf of their organizations on Tuesday. State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said the government is actively contemplates to explore local coal by protecting the nature with a view to making the country into a middle income one by the year 2021. “We will develop the Dhigipara coal field using underground mining method with more concentration on environment as well as welfare of local peoples,” said the state minister while addressing a deal signing programme on feasibility study of Dhigipara Coal Field at hotel Sonargaon.  As per the deal, the consortium will conduct feasibility study within 24 square kilometers to assess the economic viability of the coalfield between June 1, 2017 and September 30, 2019.    Petrobangla and the , Energy and Mineral Resources Division have already handed over exploration licence of 4,000 hectare of Dighipara coal mine area to the BCMCL. Addressing the programme the state minister pointed out that around 865 million metric tons of coals are reserved at various coal fields in the country. “The socio-economic condition of people will be changed tremendously once the exploration begins properly, he observed. The minister said latest technology will be adopted to develop the coal fields by protecting the nature and without occurring any damage to the agricultural land. Dighipara coal field was discovered by state-run Geological survey of Bangladesh (GSB) in 1995. Four boreholes were drilled to confirm the coal deposits at the depth of 324-455 metres. Coal deposits of Dighipara basin is the second largest among the discovered coal fields in Bangladesh, having more than double coal deposit than that of the Barapukuria basin. Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman, Energy and Mineral Resources Division secretary Nazimuddin Chowdhury, German ambassador to Dhaka Dr. Thomas Priznz, Australian ambassador to Dhaka Julia Niblett, Petrobangla Chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah, Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Managing Director Engr. Habib Uddin Ahmed and senior official concern attended at the signing function.  
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NUCLEAR
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the main construction work of the much-awaited Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the maiden nuclear plant of the country. She formally launched the main construction work of the plant by pouring concrete at the plant site at Rooppur in Ishwardi of northern Pabna district on Thursday. Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman, PM`s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman, Energy Adviser Dr Towfique-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Security Adviser Major General (retd) Tariq Ahmed Siddiq, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq, PM`s Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Science and Technology Secretary Md Anwar Hossain, Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Ignatov, Russia`s state-run atomic energy body Rosatom`s Director General Alexey Likhachev, and project director of the plant Dr. Mohammad Shawkat Akbar and senior officials of Bangladesh and Russia were present on the occasion. The Rooppur plant is expected to add 2,400MW of electricity to the national grid by 2024, helping the country to meet an increasing demand for electricity. The mega project is being implemented by the state-run Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) under the Science and Technology Ministry, with financial, technical and technological support by Russia through its state nuclear agency, Rosatom. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and Russian company, JSC Atomstroyexport, signed a general contract for construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) on December 25 in 2015. BAEC Chairman Md Monirul Islam and Vice President of Atomstroyexport Vladimir N Savuskhin signed the contract on behalf of their respective organisations. Atomostroyexport, the contractor appointed by Russia`s state-owned atomic power body , Rosatom, will construct the RNPP at a cost of $12.65 billion, out of which, $10.1 billion has been fixed as base price, $1 billion for soil stabilisation and further cost, and the remaining $1.65 billion for price escalation. On December 15 in 2015, the government finalised the amount for the biggest-ever investment project in the country`s history by inking an initial agreement with Russia. Earlier in January 2013, an inter-governmental agreement was signed for the provision of a $500 million Russian loan to finance engineering design, site development and personnel training. On November 2, 2011, Bangladesh signed a deal with Russia`s state-owned nuclear giant Rosatom to construct the nuclear plant. Russia will provide all assistance under the agreement for setting up the plant, including providing the fuel and taking back the used fuel. A total of 262 acres of land have been acquired to set up two units of the plant with a capacity of 2,400-MW. On October 2, 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant at Ishwardi in Pabna.
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GAS
Energy expert Professor Badrul Imam on Saturday advised to dig more exploratory wells in near the newly discovered gas fields at Bhola. Imam was speaking at the Seminar titled “Bhola Gas Fields and Energy Security” organised by the Forum for Energy Reporters of Bangladesh (FERB) at the Dhaka Club in Dhaka. Previously, he said, almost of the gas fields of the country were discovered in the Surma Basin. “After gas fields were discovered in Bhola, it is now assumed that the Meghna Basin at the southern part of the country has large gas reserve too,” added Prof Imam, who is a Professor at the Geology department in Dhaka University. He asked for conducting exploration at Char Jabbar, Char Jabbar North and Monpura area near the existing two gas fields—Shahbajpur and Bhola North—of Bhola. Prof Imam believes Maheshkhali and Swandip—two islands at the Southern tip—might have gas too. “Bangladesh is neither floating on gas not it has run out of it. I believe, there are still scopes of finding more large gas fields. But we need to conduct appropriate explorations for it,” he said. Dr Imam however believes that the lack of true interest and endeavor has made these explorations still an unattempt task. He said without exploration and eventual discovery of new gas fields, the looming energy crisis of the country could not be mitigated only by import of energy alternatives. Dr Tawfique-E-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Advisor of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who was the chief guest at the program said, he hoped a total of 1.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) will be added at the national grid from the gas fields of Bhola. He informed that the government has taken an attempt to construct gas pipeline with which it could bring gas from Bhola to Khulna and Barishal in the mainland. The Advisor also hoped that a 600 MW power plant could be constructed with the gas found in the gas fields in Bhola. “The electricity produced from it could be added to the national power grid.” Dr Elahi stressed on digging more wells in the existing gas fields of the country. “We need fresh assessment of our gas fields. This will beget a scope of finding more gas. We have past examples of finding more gas after re-assessment.” He informed that to mitigate the existing crisis of gas, more explorations are planned. “The government has also taken multiple plans for LNG import.” Surgey Tumanov, managing director of Gazprom EP International BV, Amzad Hossain, former managing director of Bapex, Kazi Matin Uddin Ahmed, Chairman of Geology department of Dhaka University and SM Maqsud Kamal, president of the DU Teachers Association were present at the seminar among others.        
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PETROLEUM
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RENEWABLE
Local Debonair Padding and Quilting Solution Ltd (DPQSL) signed a long term power purchase agreement (PPA) with MegaRoof Ltd on Tuesday, for a large-scale rooftop based solar plant to be set up at Valuka in Mymensinghon its factory rooftop. Solaric, renewable energy research and development company, will install the 324 kilowatt-peak (KWp) grid tied solar project on the rooftop of Debonair’s factory which is a metallic roof with a roof space of 40,000 sft. The company aims at implementing the project in three months from the date of deal signing. MegaRoof Ltd, established and solely owned by Solaric, is the country’s first and only renewable energy service company (RESCO), will be responsible for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the system for 20 years under a separate O&M contract signed between the parties. This is the first commercial power purchase deal through a solar plant and a milestone for rooftop solar applications in Bangladesh at the privates sector in particular. Mohammed Ayub Khan, managing director of DPQSL and Didar Islam, managing director of MegaRoof Ltd, signed the agreement on respective sides’ behalf at Solaric’s head office in Baridhara, Dhaka. Fahmida Sultana, director of Solaric, Nasir Uddin Ahmed, director of MegaRoof, Farzana Rahman, senior vice-president and head (investment) of renewable energy of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), Mir Suman Hussain, manager (business development) and Shahan Ahmed, manager (marketing) of Solaric, among others, addressed the signing ceremony. The estimated total cost of the project is Tk2.50crore, of which IDCOL, a government owned non-bank financial institution, will provide 80% as soft loan (10 years tenure) and Solaric will provide 20% as equity. The financier of the project, IDCOL, has taken front stage in Bangladesh to help finance the dissemination of solar projects in the country. They have already distributed over five million solar home systems around Bangladesh and now, newly add industrial solar rooftop to their portfolio.  Under the agreement, the DPQSL will purchase electricity from MegaRoof’s plant at a cost that is 5% less than national grid connected Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) tariff during the PPA tenure and enjoy free electricity after the expiry of the PPA term. Didar Islam, is also managing director of Solaric said that the product which Solaric calls MegaRoof, is an industrial solar rooftop system that generates large scale electricity from solar energy for the consumption of large factories and machineries, saving electric bill and helps companies ‘go-green”.  The system is designed to operate seamlessly with the government grid system and captive generators.  Priority is given to solar as the first level of energy to be consumed to ensure clients save significantly on their monthly electric bill, he said. Solaric developed the special zero export controller (ZEC) which ensures that the system operates safely without any back-flow of power to the grid or generator especially during holidays and periods of low consumption, he added. “There are many idle rooftops available in the country which can be used to produce 500 MW of power.  There is a huge market to be filled in this sector and has caught the eyes of companies like Solaric who are able to make rooftop solar technology feasible for commercial use,” Didar said. We hope to make a positive change to Bangladesh’s current power circumstances and help decrease its carbon footprint, he also added. With the threat of global warming and rising sea levels, it is not only a necessity, but also is an obligation for us to make the transition to solar and other renewables as a source of energy.  Debonair, being the visionary, has taken initiative to be the first commercial group to sign a PPA agreement which they hope to start a new trend in Bangladesh and is hoping to influence many other groups to follow.    After the PPA term has expired, Debonair will assume full ownership of the system where they will then enjoy free electricity for the rest of the plant life which estimated at 20 years.  The teams of each respective group expressed their commitment and determination to see through the success of the project and their commitment of doing many more ventures together.  
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EFFICIENCY & CONSERVATION
TECHNOLOGY
High-efficiency, low-emission (HELE) coal-fired electricity generation technology will play a critical role in South-East Asia’s future economic prosperity and climate policies, according to a new report from ASEAN Centre for Energy and the World Coal Association (WCA). The new report confirms that HELE coal technology will provide affordable and reliable electricity to more than 600 million people in the region while dramatically reducing emissions. The report conducts a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of climate, energy and sustainable development policies in ASEAN nations, which are set to increase their electricity demand significantly in coming years. It finds that if ASEAN shifts its coal-fired power generation capacity to a modern, low emissions fleet by 2035, the region would reduce its cumulative emissions by 1.3 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of the US, China and the European Union combined. The new report is consistent with other projections by leading energy analysts. A recent report from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies concluded that based on current national power plans, South East Asia’s coal capacity will reach 148 GW by 2025, a 139% increase on 2015. Coal will pass gas as South East Asia’s number one energy source before 2025, the OIES report concluded. ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world with economic growth forecast to increase by over 6% per year.  Growth has already lifted millions from poverty and seen the number of people in the region without access to electricity halved over the past 20 years. The International Energy Agency predicts ASEAN’s energy demand will increase by 80 per cent over the period to 2040. To meet this demand, secure reliable electricity is required and the report confirms that low emission coal will be the generation of choice.  With the IEA forecasting coal to provide 50% of electricity generation by 2040, ASEAN nations are looking to utilise low-emission coal technology to deliver growth while also reducing emissions. The report confirms that all forms of coal generation will be the lowest cost option for ASEAN nations in 2020 and 2035.  The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) figures show that even ultra-supercritical coal generation will cost less than all renewable options and gas-fired power generation options. The report notes that “HELE reconciles international commitments to reduce carbon with the economic priorities of generating affordable and reliable electricity.”
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OPEC and non-member oil producers are gearing up to extend output cuts on Thursday, possibly by as long as 12 months, to help clear a global stocks overhang and prop up crude prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is to discuss in Vienna whether to prolong an accord reached in December in which it and 11 non-members agreed to cut oil output by about 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017. Most OPEC ministers, delegates and the market see a nine-month extension - instead of the initially suggested six months - as the base-case scenario but some countries including Russia have suggested an unusually long duration of 12 months. "I think nine months is most likely," one OPEC delegate said. Four other delegates agreed it was the most probable outcome. OPEC`s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, and top non-OPEC producer Russia have said cuts need to be extended to speed up market rebalancing and prevent oil prices from sliding back below $50 per barrel. OPEC sources have said the Thursday meeting will also highlight the need for long-term cooperation with non-OPEC producers. The group could also send a message to the market that it will seek to curtail its oil exports, which have not declined as steeply as its production. However, a decision on deeper output cuts is unlikely on Thursday, sources have said. By 0725 GMT, Brent crude was trading up almost 1 percent, above $54.40 a barrel. OPEC`s cuts have helped push oil back above $50 a barrel this year, giving a fiscal boost to producers, many of which rely heavily on energy revenues and have had to burn through foreign-currency reserves to plug holes in their budgets. Oil`s earlier price decline, which started in 2014, forced Russia and Saudi Arabia to tighten their belts and led to unrest in some producing countries including Venezuela and Nigeria. "Russia has an upcoming election and Saudis have the Aramco share listing next year so they will indeed do whatever it takes to support oil prices," said Gary Ross, head of global oil at PIRA Energy, a unit of S&P Global Platts. The price rise this year has spurred growth in the U.S. shale industry, which is not participating in the output deal, thus slowing the market`s rebalancing with global stocks still near record highs. OPEC has a self-imposed goal of bringing stocks down from a record high of 3 billion barrels to their five-year average of 2.7 billion. Algerian Energy Minister Noureddine Boutarfa told Reuters on Wednesday he believed that inventories should normalise by the end of 2017.
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Twenty-sixteen saw a "dramatic" decline in the number of coal-fired power stations in pre-construction globally. The authors of a new study say there was a 48% fall in planned coal units, with a 62% drop in construction starts. The report, from several green campaign groups, claims changing policies and economic conditions in China and India were behind the decline. However, the coal industry argues the fuel will remain essential to economic growth in Asia for decades to come. Rapid swing Between 2006 and 2016, India and China together accounted for 85% of the coal plants built around the world. But according to the Boom and Bust 2017 report, put together by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, there has been a huge swing away from coal in these two countries in just 12 months. The main causes of the decline are the imposition of restrictive measures by China`s central government - with the equivalent of 600 coal-fired units being put on hold until at least 2020. The Indian go-slow was prompted, according to the authors, by the reluctance of banks to provide funds. Work at 13 locations is currently not going ahead. However, there have also been significant retirements of coal plants in Europe and the US over the past two years, with roughly 120 large units being taken out of commission. "This has been a messy year, and an unusual one," said Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm. "It`s not normal to see construction frozen at scores of locations, but central authorities in China and bankers in India have come to recognize overbuilding of coal plants as a major waste of resources. "However abrupt, the shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security, and jobs. And by all indications, the shift is unstoppable." The study comes as other groups analyse the potential for investments in coal to become stranded assets if governments continue to restrict CO2 emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that hundreds of billions of dollars could be at risk. "The decline in new coal plants in Asian countries is truly dramatic, and shows how a perfect storm of factors is simply making coal a bad investment," said Paul Massara, now of North Star Solar but a former CEO of RWE npower. "Growing awareness of the air pollution problems coal causes, the impact of policies to tackle climate change, and the rapid growth and cost-competitiveness of renewable sources of energy, along with emerging battery technologies, are making new coal plants redundant before they are even built," he said. However, the World Coal Association vehemently disagrees. It says the complexity of large infrastructure projects means that until they break ground, it`s no surprise if they don`t go ahead. "Yes, China, is reducing the number of coal-stations but not because it`s transitioning away from coal. Instead, the new dynamics is a signal of a more developed economy," said Benjamin Sporton. "Contrary to the picture being portrayed by certain quarters, China`s climate pledge suggests that coal will continue to be central to its energy solutions, albeit through efficiencies including the use of new coal technologies. "In India`s case, it`s simply not true that renewables are displacing coal. The International Energy Agency has said that India`s coal demand will see the biggest growth over next five years with an annual average growth rate of 5% by 2021. "For these countries, excluding coal from the energy mix is not an option; it is essential for economic growth and critical in securing energy access." According to the authors of the study, the slowdown brings the possibility of keeping global warming under 2 degrees C since pre-industrial times "within feasible reach." However, the study says that much more progress needs to be made to reduce the number of coal-fired plants under development in Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan and elsewhere.
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The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved a project involving Taka 10,982 crore to improve transmission infrastructures for evacuating power from the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. The approval came from the 22nd ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY18) held at the NEC conference room in the capital’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area with ECNEC chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of 16 projects were approved involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 15,683.24 crore. “Of the total project cost, Taka 5,707.97 crore will come from the GoB portion, Taka 1,235.07 crore from the organisation’s own fund while the rest of Taka 8,740.20 crore from project assistance.” Of the approved 16 projects, 15 are new projects while one is revised. The Planning Minister said Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited (PGCB) under the Power Division will implement the project with an estimated cost of Taka 10,981.75 crore by December 2022. On December 25, 2015, an agreement was signed between the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and the Russian Rosatom worth US$12.65 billion to construct the country’s first nuclear power plant in Rooppur. Out of the two units of the plant, the first unit having capacity of 1,200 MW is expected to come into operation by October 2022 while the second unit also having 1,200 MW capacity is expected to come into operation by 2023. Under the circumstances, the project has been considered and approved in the today’s ECNEC meeting to develop necessary power transmission infrastructures for evacuating power to be produced from the nuke power plant. Of the total project cost of Taka 10,981.75 crore for the Power Transmission infrastructures project, the government will provide Taka 1,527.64 crore, the PGCB will provide Taka 1,235.07 crore while the rest of Taka 8,219.04 crore will come from the Indian third LoC. An official at the Power Division said the project will be implemented at some 37 upazilas under 13 districts in three divisions. The main project operations include erection of 609 kilometre 400 kV double circuit transmission line, construction of some 60 kilometer 230 kV Rooppur-Baghabari double circuit transmission line, and some 12 bay extensions. The PGCB has already conducted a feasibility study for the project and based on the findings of that study, this project has been drafted. The Planning Minister said once the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is built, power generation would be cost effective in the long run from that plant and there would remain no hassle and concern over the power generation as Russia would take away nuclear waste from the country. The day`s ECNEC meeting also approved another project for constructing and renovating the rail line with signaling system for the Rooppur nuclear power plant project with an estimated cost of Taka 335.97 crore. The Ministry of Science and Technology will implement the project by June 2020. The project will help establish overall transport management system for Rooppur Power Plant, establishing around 26.52 kilometre rail communication from Ishwardi bypass take off point to Rooppur nuclear power plant, introducing safe, fast, and goods-laden rail service for the Rooppur Plant, and thus boosting the revenue of Bangladesh railway.
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