Payra PowerPlant: The Path to 100% Power Coverage in Bangladesh

Payra PowerPlant

On Monday, PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 1320 MW ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant at Patuakhali’s Payra and declared the country’s 100 percent electricity coverage. 

The Payra Thermal Power Plant developed by Bangladesh China Power Company Limited (BCPCL) is a 50:50 joint venture between the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) and Bangladesh’s state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL). Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt.) Limited and Consortium of NEPC & CECC signed the EPC contract on 29 March 2016 to implement the Payra 1320 MW Thermal Power Plant Project in the fastest possible time. 

The Payra power plant is built on 1000 acres of land beside the Ramnabad River at Kalapara Upazila of the southern Patuakhali district in Bangladesh. After undergoing test runs for five months, the first unit of the Payra power plant started commercial operation in May 2020. In October 2020, the second unit of the 660 MW plant, started its commercial operation. 

The $2.48 billion coal-fired power plant, using Ultra Supercritical Technology, is the 13th worldwide and 7th in South Asia. Currently, the 1,320MW plant is producing 1,000MW of power experimentally. “Once the country’s largest power plant goes into operation in full swing, it will be possible to keep electricity prices at a tolerable level,” says the Divisional Commissioner of Barishal Md Amin Ul Ahsan 

In the inauguration ceremony, the prime minister said, “We have transformed Bangladesh into a developing nation from the least developed country confronting all the hurdles”. She said her government has managed to reach power to every remote hilly and hard-to-reach house by setting up solar panels and charging areas by submersible cables. Describing power as the driving force for development, she said the government has been working untiringly to develop the power sector for the last 13 years.

With the Payra power plant in operation, Bangladesh has become the first South Asian nation to achieve 100% coverage, surpassing India (98%) and Pakistan (74%). Bangladesh’s power generation capacity reached 25,514MW from just 4,942MW in January 2009, meaning only 47 percent of the population had access to electricity. With the increase in production per capita power generation has increased from 220 kWh to 560 kWh, and electricity distribution loss has been reduced by 5.85%. 

Explaining the claim of 100 percent coverage, officials of the Ministry of Energy, Power, and Mineral Resources said they provided connections to all who applied for it. Mohammad Hossain, the director-general of Power Cell said, “We have electricity coverage in every area of the country either by the national grid or the solar home system. However, we can’t force them if anyone didn’t apply.” he added, 

Some areas like the Chattogram Hill Tracts where the national grid didn’t reach had solar home systems. In addition, some islands like Hatiya have engines to produce power locally. According to BPDB data, around 4.21 crore connections have been provided to date.

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