Import more power from neighbours: experts

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    The government should beef up its efforts to import as much electricity as possible from neighbouring countries to meet rising demand, said experts.

    Maximum effort should be given on neighbours who use renewable energy sources, said M Tamim, a former energy adviser.

    “We get all the renewable energy benefits without losing any land,” he said at a discussion in the capital’s Lakeshore Hotel, pointing to falling prices of green energy in India.

    The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) organised the seminar on “Energy Security 2030: Challenges & Opportunities”.

    Bangladesh now imports 600 megawatts of power from India and is seeking to buy more from hydropower-rich Nepal and Bhutan as well.

    Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, said he had positive talks with Myanmar on bringing gas before the latter’s elections in 2015.

    He said he was hopeful of establishing energy cooperation with Myanmar, which is sitting on large reserves of gas.

    Moderating the discussion, M Fouzul Kabir Khan, a former power secretary, said Bangladesh has to recognise the importance of solar energy as its dynamics was changing globally.

    Norway’s Ambassador to Bangladesh Sidsel Bleken said Bangladesh has the opportunity to do more in areas of solar energy and increasing its ratio in energy mix.

    “That’s an area many foreign companies including from Norway, would be interested to invest,” she said.

    Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur said Bangladesh has augmented its power generation capacity but was producing less than what it was capable of.

    “If we want to ensure 100 percent coverage we have to provide credible supply of power. We just don’t want to see electricity poles,” he said.

    He said if Bangladesh could not use its coal now and preserved it for future generations, it might be lost forever.

    The expert also said the government should allow the private sector to import power from India, breaking away from the public sector monopoly. Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh Chief Executive Officer Abrar A Anwar said Bangladesh would require about $15 billion for its energy sector.

    He said the country could explore the opportunity to borrow money from abroad as there was a lot of capital available globally.

    DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan said efficient transportation, modern infrastructure with competitive and reliable energy would become the most crucial elements for Bangladesh to remain competitive in the global inventor’s map.

    He said the supply side in the energy sector was not able to support today’s growing demand and many factories and industries were being severely affected for this. Khan said the energy crisis driven by the supply-demand gap creates serious opportunity loss, affecting the country’s competitiveness. The entrepreneur called for utilising an optimum level of the country’s large coal reserves as energy source and rationalising the cost of liquefied natural gas (LNG) including other primary energy and power.

    Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said 1,000 million cubic feet of gas would be added to the network through imports of LNG in 2018.

    “It will cut the gas shortage by 50 percent,” he said, adding that this would support the industries.

    He said the LNG price would depend on the import price. However, the government would categorically work on the issue so that the industries can remain competitive.

    Source: The Daily Star