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POST TIME: 21 January, 2019 12:37:40 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 January, 2019 12:34:13 PM
Producers worry over low demand in off-peak hours
ELECTRICITY USE IN WINTER
SHAHED SIDDIQUE and FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka

Producers worry over low demand in off-peak hours

The poor demand for electricity during off-peak hours in winter has created a peculiar problem for the country’s power producers. Officials said this trend in the electricity demand-supply curve has resulted in negative industrial consumption of electricity, which ultimately affects power production, as industrial connections offset the subsidy in domestic lines. The country’s economists also described such poor demand for electricity during off-peak hours a problem for the overall economic development of the country. As they pointed out, negative growth in industrial electricity demand means negative overall industrial growth.

Khaled Mahmood, the chairman of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), recently told The Independent that “in percentage terms, the industry growth has decreased compared to last year, which causes some problems in the off-peak time”.

“This is because during the off-peak hours, the minimum demand of electricity is way below the power producers’ expected demand, which creates problems in load management,” said Mahmood.

The BPDB chairman said domestic demand has been on the rise in the past few years. “This has created problems because without such growth in industrial power connections, it is difficult to economically expand the electricity network.”

According to the BPDB’s data, in the last-completed financial year, FY2017–18, industrial connections consumed 33.42 per cent of the total retail consumption of 55,103 million kilowatt hours (MkWh). In 2016–17, it was 35.45 percent of the total of 50,265

MkWh. In FY 2015–16, industrial connections consumed 34.28 per cent of the total 45,299 MkWh.

Interestingly, in FY 2017–18, the domestic connections consumed 52.65 per cent. The corresponding figures in FY 2016–17 and FY 2015–16 were 50.18 per cent and 50.89 per cent respectively.

The BPDB data said the current power generation capacity of the country is 17,685 MW while the peak demand is 8,500 MW. During the off-peak hours, the highest demand is 5,000 MW. On Election Day, December 30, the demand was 3,375 MW.

The managing director of the Power Grid Company Limited (PGCB), Masum Al Biruni, told The Independent that the low demand in the off-peak hours has created problems in the load management of the power grid. As he explained, the electric power system has been designed and operated to respond to the customers’ instantaneous demands for electric power. “So if the electricity demand remains very low in off-peak hours, we have to keep the supply very low. In peak hours, it becomes problematic for the system to scale up the power production all of a sudden.” Power Division officials said every month the government gives three lakh new connections to fulfil the commitment of the government towards Vision 2021, which envisages access to electricity for all by 2021. But this target can see success by 2019 itself.

A BPDB official said they tried to generate power from gas-based plants this winter to meet the demand. But during the huge gap between peak and off-peak, the BPDB has to run some costly fuel-based power plants in the peak hours. This makes the government incur some extra costs.

The BPDB has fuel-based power plants which can generate 5,200 MW. Of that, 1,500 MW is diesel-based and 3,500 MW comes from furnace oil-based power plants.

MK