Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rampal gets rolling

Hasina, Manmohan jointly unveil foundation plaque of coal-fired power plant despite green groups' protest; formal import of 175MW power from India begins, 250MW by next month

fr51Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh yesterday unveiled the foundation plaque for Rampal power plant amid growing public concern that the coal-fired plant, only 14 km off the Sundarbans, may bring on a disaster for the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Though the Rampal project site is in Bagerhat, the unveiling ceremony was held at Bheramara in Kushtia, where the two leaders also inaugurated the Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre.
Manmohan joined the programme through a video conference from New Delhi.
Through the Bheramara power transmission centre, Bangladesh will get every day 500 megawatt (MW) of electricity that will help the country address its ongoing power crisis.
This is the first time in South Asia that the two countries are trading electricity. Bangladesh yesterday got 175MW of power, which will gradually go up to 250MW a day next month and to 500MW at the end of the next month.
Hasina also inaugurated a 360MW gas-fired power plant in Bheramara.
Speaking via video conference, Manmohan urged the authorities of the Rampal plant, a joint venture of Bangladesh and India, to maintain the highest standard of environmental safety in operating the plant, given that the Sundarbans is a common heritage site of the two countries.
The transmission line and the power station in Bheramara provide a safe and reliable link between the power grids of the two nations, he said.
The Indian prime minister said it would add a new dimension and strengthen the bonds of friendship between India and Bangladesh.
Manmohan said India wishes to see a strong and prosperous Bangladesh.
“I assure you that India will remain a steadfast and long-term partner in your development efforts … I want to express my commitment to completing the tasks that we had agreed earlier,” he said.
In the future, there would be deeper cooperation in the energy sector as well as in other areas, he added.
In response, Hasina expressed deep gratitude to India for its invaluable contribution to the country’s Liberation War in 1971.
She also talked of her government’s interests in hydro-electric projects in India’s north-eastern region.
Rampal gets rollingNO HARM TO SUNDARBANS
Speaking at the inauguration programme later, Hasina asserted that the Rampal power plant would not cause any harm to the Sundarbans or the livelihood of the people in the surrounding areas.
Blasting the critics of the Rampal plant, Hasina said people should analyse the motive behind their criticism and opposition to the project.
“I want to say firmly that Sheikh Hasina will not do anything that will harm the country and its environment,” she said.
In its efforts to protect the mangrove forest, her government had dredged the Gorai River in Kushtia which has reduced salinity in the Sundarbans, said the prime minister.
Hasina invited the environmentalists and the critics to visit the coal-based Barapukuria power plant in Dinajpur to assess whether it had harmed the croplands and the environment in the area.
Claiming that her government would consider the environmental aspect of the mangrove forest with utmost importance, she said it was her government that took the initiative to put the Sundarbans on the list of world heritage sites.
Environmentalists, socio-political organisations, and political parties, including the main opposition BNP, have been opposing the government’s plan to set up the plant at Rampal of Bagerhat, 14 kilometres away from the Sundarbans. They argue that it would spell disaster for the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Hasina was scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the Rampal plant on October 22 and Manmohan was supposed to join her through a video conference.
But the schedule had to be changed as the Indian premier will be occupied with some urgent issues on that day.
Hasina said her government would set up several coal-based mega power plants in Moheshkhali of Cox’s Bazaar, Banshkhali of Chittagong, Barguna, Munshiganj and Ashuganj.
Three power plants with a capacity of 1,320MW each would also be set up after signing government-to-government contracts with Malaysia, China and Korea, she said.
The prime minister said agreements would also be inked with Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar to import more electricity.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu, Prime Minister’s Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, State Minister for power and energy Enamul Haque, and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Mahbubul Alam Hanif spoke at the programme.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks from his New Delhi office through a video conference at the inauguration of Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre at Bheramara in Kushtia yesterday. The foundation plaque for controversial Rampal power plant was also unveiled at the programme. Seated right to left, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah, Hasina's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi, and Shubid Ali Bhuiyan, chairman of parliamentary standing committee on power ministry. Photo: BSS

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks from his New Delhi office through a video conference at the inauguration of Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre at Bheramara in Kushtia yesterday. The foundation plaque for controversial Rampal power plant was also unveiled at the programme. Seated right to left, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah, Hasina’s Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi, and Shubid Ali Bhuiyan, chairman of parliamentary standing committee on power ministry. Photo: BSS

Shubid Ali Bhuiyan, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on power ministry, Abul Kalam Azad, secretary of Economic Relations Division, Monowar Islam, secretary of Power Division, also addressed the programme.
Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah, Power Secretary PK Sinha and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran also spoke.
They said the highest standard of environmental protection would be maintained for the implementation of the Rampal power plant.
Dr Abdullah promised that his country would do everything to help Bangladesh make steady progress.
He said India and Bangladesh need to work harder to root out terrorism and militancy from the region.

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    It is not a good idea to write and post without knowing facts related to environmental studies regarding this RAMPAL PROJECT, and who are the people/party/firms that carried out such studies.

    I know Coal based power plant are being put up all over the world including in Europe and the United States with latest technology. The issue to me is India does not have the latest technology for an ultra modern coal based power plant. I have written in the past over this subject, that a power plant in the state of Wisconsin in the United States was put up by a company call Becktel and went to operation last year. That is probably one of the most modern coal based power plant in the world and cost of power is only u.s. 07 cents per kWH.

    I would support such technology for RAMPAL project, if I know identical technology as Wisconsin plant is adopted .

    • Sara

      does it cost 7 cents (Tk. 5.6) including everything… fuel, labour, transportation, distribution… if it is so cheap in USA, it must be cheaper in Bangladesh because of cheaper labour… or is the price low because of lower cost of coal in USA…

  • Sara

    good idea… modern communication technology can reduce travel needs… although not eliminate them…

  • Dev Saha

    Coal powered power plant next to Sundarban sounds pretty horrible and stupid. Is it worth taking the chance? Acid rain might destroy the whole forest and its beautiful creatures in few years time. The example are plenty around the world.

  • Zman7

    48-hour ultimatum, Dhaka seize, massive destruction, attack on national mosque, burning Qur’an etc could be the reasons that she is completing her term as per the law.

  • Ash C.

    Ten out of ten! That’s all I can say. Thank you.

    • Iftekhar Hassan

      Thanks Ash

      • Ash C.

        To: Iftekhar Hassan, agent_47 & Sara,

        Just keep up the lively discussion. It’s so enlightening!

  • Sara

    Thanks for the detailed information. I notice that your description deals with reducing waste products from combustion, except for the part that mentions controlling combustion rate. Is higher thermal output obtained by that step specifically? Or is the thermal output inherently related to the process of waste reduction?

    • Iftekhar Hassan

      I think, latest technology shall significantly reduce the capital and operating costs of an Coal fired plant that is equipped with carbon capture technology.

      There are projects just going to operation 2013/14, which is designed to capture approximately 90 percent of the CO2 from a slip stream of the coal-fired plant’s flue gas stream, is scheduled to be operational in November 2013. The goal of the project is to reduce the energy it takes to run carbon capture equipment and ultimately reduce costs to customers and move the technology closer to widespread use all over the world. I must herein, also add that, I like Chinese technology far better than Indian technology. I think some new Chinese projects are even better than even many existing European and American plans.

      In the United States, Tampa Electric is partnering with RTI International and the Shaw Group to conduct a study on a new technology to clean synthetic gas (syngas) at elevated temperatures. The study will evaluate the construction of a pilot project to demonstrate the technology at Tampa Electric’s Polk Power Station’s 250-megawatt IGCC plant.

      My conclusion is, It is the Bangladeshi government officials, who are not qualified to select in terms of which technology and wo to select as partner. So what, if India is partially financing RAMPAL. Financing such plant for Bangladesh is not the issue. It is the technology selection that is the issue.

  • agent_47

    Do u deny that coal as 2-3 time greater adverse effect compared to furnace fuel? 3-4 times compared to natural gas and 10-12 times compared to bio fuel….

  • Sara

    Quick-rentals are unsustainable but were valuable in the short-term despite increasing electricity prices (we have covered it before). Long-term energy still needs to be addressed, which involves disabling quick-rentals and replacing them with other sources. A 1320 MW coal power project is one such cheaper, conceivably sustainable, longER term solution, which will create air pollution (true for any coal plant) and may damage the Sundarbans (specific to this plant). Another contemporary long-term project is a 1000 MW nuclear plant (planned to be expanded to 2000 MW). By the time these projects are scheduled to finish, they will provide roughly 20% of the country’s needs. We still need long(er)-term solutions for the remaining 80%, within constraints of depleting gas reserves, small coal mines, rising oil prices and limited uranium availability.

    Unfortunately, we do not possess enough fuel to become energy-independent in the foreseeable future. It is very likely that we will have to keep importing coal, oil or nuclear fuel for a long time.

    Given the circumstances, and barring your concern about air pollution caused by all coal-plants, is it not reasonable to try developing this coal plant into a long-term solution? Or is there other factors I am missing?

  • Sara

    In both Nepal and Bhutan, hydroelectricity has potential on paper, but needs large-scale development before export is feasible (Nepal itself is considerably energy-starved). Are we capable of investing abroad in such large projects in a country like Nepal, which is less-developed and politically less stable than ours?

    If yes, then investing in such a project would be beneficial in the future.

  • deepjelejai

    The Inherited politicians having no principle has been taking advantages of poor literacy rate since 1971.

  • indian

    Yes i am, there is nothing wrong in being nationalist. And we don’t need certificates from Arundati Ray etc etc.. to prove my patriotic credentials. And i can also cite 10 different names against what she writes, so please don’t give me that. And god forbide if any ecological disasters happen then it won’t look at the demarcation of border to spread. So please be sensible. And moreover , from technical point of view power plant when built near load center reduces transmission losses which will benefit you and not us.So wake up.

    • Iftekhar Hassan

      I thought we left the concept call “NATIONALISM” over at woodpiles a long time ago. Nationalism is an ancient thinking of close mind in this very tiny world.

  • indian

    hahaha just how much ignorant , ill informed you are. The electricity company neither belongs to bangladesh nor indian rather it joint ownership(50:50 partnership) So the liability if of both and not of only ones. Moreover tax incurred will be reflected in the balance sheet of bangldesh india freindship company and not of NTPC or BPDB. So please don’t spread rumours.

  • Zman7

    Thanks for your excellent opinion that I find sound and rational.

  • Zman7

    Great, but sometimes face to meeting/discussion is required and even imperative for many reasons. However, ordinary tasks could easily be done in this way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/papabearJ Sam Jahan

    Dear agent_47,

    Using slang language is absolutely prohibited and not at all encouraged.

    Continuous usage of jargon may lead to a ban.

    In the name of debate, nobody is allowed to provoke a skirmish.

    I hope you understand.

    Happy commenting. :)

    • agent_47

      thnx. sounds reasonable. i just din realize i used any slang . but i might be guilty of flaming

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    Since 1971, Bangladesh spended over $100 billion buying Indian junk, scraps and low grade Indian food products that has no market anywhere in the world.

    We do have every right to debate future of our country and “BANIA” attitude of our big neighbor, who always want more, more and more. Never says thank you Bangladesh for for buying our junks.

    What that over $100 billion + did to help Indian economy need to be debated.

    If I had the power, I would first appoint a group of top consultants to do a detail environmental feasibility studies of RAMPAL project and another techno-economic feasibility report to discover all the hidden fine prints

  • Zman7

    Interesting, why can’t we “If Indian companies can invest heavily in Nepal and Bhutan”! But why should we use that logic? BD experts/researchers must develop its own strategy on the basis comparative study of all possible reputed projects.

  • agent_47

    continued,,,
    combustion produces CO2 (acid raid + raising temp), SO2 (acid raid + falling temp), NOX (acid raid + i donot greenhouse effects) as well as hydrogen cyanide (HCN), sulfur nitrate (SNO3) and other toxic substances. the wet cooling towers used in coal-fired power stations, etc. emit drift and fog which are also environmental concern. This with sodium salts in the sea water are deposited on nearby lands which would convert the land into alkali soil by reducing the fertility of vegetative lands and also cause corrosion of nearby structures. See where i am going with the acid rains, and the fog?
    i know how the government said there will be no environmental effect and what not. but the power station will need water, and impure water which will be dump in the river. that water will pass through the sundarban which is barely 8-10 kr away (14 km is the outer edge of the sundarban). it takes 30 minutes to cycle 10-14 km. thats how near it is.

    • Sara

      Thanks a lot. Your post was truly enlightening and answers most of the questions surrounding the hazards of this particular coal plant. Prior to reading this post, I was under the impression that the danger to the Sundarbans was posed by carbon-blackened smoke. Your extrapolation into waste products and their subsequent reactions with components of the environment adds a whole different perspective.

  • agent_47

    we all know the impacts and there is nothing new to say. yet we act ignorant. the indian company did not get permission to make the same power station on their side of the boarder for this reason alone, and here we are picking up their trashes. its a question of sovereignty as well as ethics.

    major EU funded research study known as ExternE undertaken over the period of 1995 to 2005 found that the cost of producing electricity from coal would double over its present value, if external costs such as damage to the environment and to human
    health, from the airborne particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, chromium VI and arsenic emissions produced by coal, were taken into account. The study also found that the environmental and health costs of coal alone were €0.06/kWh, or 6 cents/kWh, with the energy sources of the lowest external costs associated with them being nuclear power €0.0019/kWh (if u add commissioning cost for nuclear, it still less than 1cent/kwhr), and wind power at €0.0009/kWhr.

    who is going to pay for this extra cost which is larger than the cost of production of electricity alone?

    continued,,,

  • Sara

    Yes, agree again. But I also wonder whether such digital communication means can be used in other commercial ventures. Almost the entire country is covered by mobile networks that provide cheap Internet connection, so maybe somebody (government?) can set an example by creating a hub outside Dhaka that would communicate with Dhaka (or the rest of the world) through digital means. That way, burden on Dhaka may be reduced. However, the reason it has not happened is probably because of lack of infrastructure outside Dhaka.

    Just more thoughts… :)

  • agent_47

    do you expect india will allow use to have a grid connection from bhutan. also the cost of production to “transport” the electricity would be quite a lot.

    but its a honorable sugggestion

    • Ash C.

      Just check out what Nepal experienced when Indo-Nepal 50 years (friendship/co-operation) treaty expired several years back & Nepal (a land-lock country & dependent entirely on India for supplies of essentials like fuel etc.) refused to renew the treaty unless new terms agreed upon. Not even a cargo plane load of essential fuel supply from Bangladesh was allowed for a friend in need due opposition from ‘Big Brother’!

      • Sara

        As far as I know, border between India and Nepal is open, i.e. no outpost present or visa required for travel. Has this arrangement been rescinded at the end of the treaty?

        • Ash C.

          Sorry, is this all ? No visa required for travel no matter how a poor country is treated by a big neighbor & taken advantage of? Please read the history. However, since the Maoist uprising that finally saw the abolition of the monarchy few years back, democracy in Nepal has blossomed & the big neighbor is not having as much say as they used to have although they still hold the sway – Nepal being almost solely dependent on India for supplies & other necessities. One good news is that they, like Pakistan, held their general election under the same Caretaker Government system that Bangladesh introduced in 1996 & followed for three consecutive terms until the present government abolished it last year! Sad?

  • agent_47

    Someone mentioned carbon capture tech. It’s a good and objective process, but only on paper.
    - it will reduce the production capacity (as all these are power hungry and chemical process) and are still very expensive.
    - For spray dry scrubbers smaller than 200 MW, the cost is $500 to $4,000 per ton
    - the tech does not exist outside a laboratory. Also separation of CO2 from other gas is dirty process
    - they actually do not have any idea what to do with the CO2 once it has been captured.
    - Bangladesh does not have underground reservoir or a dry well. Also the cost of such tech to store the CO2 underground or under sea is phenomenal. never mind the operation cost and the tech itself which is larger than the coal fired power plant operation and installation respectively.
    - the size of the infrastructure in the amount of land is still larger.
    - cost of reference coal plant is 0.04 2002 US$ per kWh where as cost of operation with CC is 0.1 2002 US$ per kWh.cost of reference coal plant is 0.04 2002 US$ per kWh where as cost of operation with CC is 0.1 2002 US$ per kWh.
    [IPCC, 2005] IPCC special report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. Prepared by working group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Metz, B., O. Davidson, H. C. de Coninck, M. Loos, and L.A. Meyer (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 442 pp.

  • indian

    Thanks for suggesting such a easy book and not of chartered accountancy. Anyways I am chartered accountant by profession.

  • indian

    Right you are.

  • Ash C.

    To: Sara, Iftekhar Hassan & agent_47,

    Just keep up the lively discussion. It’s so enlightening!

  • agent_47

    do you mean for carbon capture?. actually that is not correct. Skyonic Corp. of Austin, Texas is the first company with commercial CCS plant call SkyMine and its construction started on September 30, 2013. so its the bleeding edge of technology and something that can be obtained instantly. although they claim that they have a small scale DEMO working, there is not saying about the success of the plant. so the tech is not there. there is no other instance of it.

    CCS depends of extracting CO2 and storing it somewhere. like the swedes store nuclear waste in under ground facilities. but there is nothing of that sort. two options were considered:
    1. store in the ocean bed where the pressure of the ocean will liquify it. but no one knows it will work.
    2. some kind of special soil, but only a few countries have it and they said they rather not use coal than use it.

    bottom line, it is NOT ready for commercial use and definitely not ready for a developing country to use

    If you mean other scrubbers technologies, well they only work at the sacrifice of production and increase cost of production to a point where alternate (i.e. solar, nuclear and even really really expensive oil) becomes more economical. I know our politicians think 4 crore taka is a pocket change, but in all honestly, a developing country cannot sustain by using cutting edge tech coz its just too expensive and there are just cheaper alternates. its like buying a car, you can buy a Ferrari or a Toyota.

    • Iftekhar Hassan

      There you go again, same ol…same old…

      ” a developing country cannot sustain by using cutting edge tech coz its just too expensive and there are just cheaper alternates”

      Please be objective, Yes cutting edge technology is expensive and we need to pay for them, even at a higher cost. You can’t have cake and pie and jut pay for one.

      This is totally a mentality issue of the fourth world. We must pay for technology if we want to live under fresh air, water and sky.

      • agent_47

        true i agree u need to pay more for latest tech.
        but whom are u calling forth world? i believe you are no better than a bangali. or have ur lived in murica too long ::)

        same old same old :(
        the rich has the money and the resources to make the cutting edge come down in price. how is it objective that the rich and unreasonable ppl like urself claim we have to pay the same amount as the developed country. Do you realize that we have to spent a BIGGER portion of our GDP for little than the “first world”.
        even if your proposal was viable in terms of cash, WE COULD USE THAT CASH TO GET MORE ELECTRICITY BY DOING SOME OTHER TECH…its called do more with less..that is called objectivity sir.

        you have lost your argument a few posts ago Mr. Iftekhar. now you are just telling me you donot take losing very well like a sour grape :)

        Thanx. i think i have made my point well enough. unless you have some facts to justify your claims, i am out…

        eid mubarak

        • Iftekhar Hassan

          Sir,

          I am not here to win or losing. I am here to exchange ideas, that foster independent thinking…That is not Ist or 4th world mentality. Its the mentality of trained mind !

          Additionally, I am not even judgemental yet objective…I always try to find answer between power of logic and logic of power…

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    Very true…

  • Ash C.

    Unfortunately, that’s the saddest part of 42 years history of our weak-kneed policy! Unlike in civilized countries where treaties – bilateral or otherwise – are bound on the signatories, in case of any Indo-Bangla treaties, Bangladesh always seem to be on the wrong end of the stick!

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    Agent, why don’t you calculate cost based on Bangladesh expenses and not U.S.A. or European cost to produce. Beside, technology expenses, Bangladesh do have other advantages. Just a thought.

    Cost of employing engineers, electricians, operators, other is far less in Bangladesh than the U.S. and Europe.

    Get that? Ever done a techo-economic feasibility report on a power plant with latest cutting edge technology for Bangladesh. I saw one a month ago with fine prints and did see huge advantages for such plant in Bangladesh too.

    Thanks

    • agent_47

      nope. ur saying operation cost due to manpower (engineers, electricians, operators, ) . but in EU where the manpower is higher than BD, the percentage of cost incured on HR is less than 15%. and the price increase due to CCS is 110%.
      now you are just making absurd claims. please provide sume numbers with it :)
      Thanks.