Bangladesh forced to shut power plant due to coal shortage, heatwave increases electricity demandtext_fields
Dhaka: Bangladesh, facing financial constraints, has been forced to shut down its largest power plant - Payra Power Plant - because the government can no longer afford the fuel needed to keep it operational.
The Payra Power Plant is a government-run facility with a capacity of 1,320 megawatts. It had already reduced production last month due to fuel shortages. However, on Monday, authorities had to cease operations completely, said manager Shah Abdul Mawla. He also expressed hope that production could resume within three weeks once coal shipments arrive, reported AFP.
According to ABM Badruddoza Khan, a spokesperson for the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, there is currently a shortage of 2,500 megawatts in the national grid, up from 2,200 megawatts the previous day, while the daily demand hovers around 16,000 megawatts. Nasrul Hamid, the Minister for Power, said the situation will return to normal within 10 to 15 days. However, he acknowledged the challenges faced in providing sufficient coal, gas, and fuel, attributing the situation to economic factors such as difficulties in securing letters of credit.
The country's struggles with a weakening currency have led to a significant decline in foreign exchange reserves, dropping from $46 billion in January 2022 to $30 billion by the end of April 2023. Although the official inflation rate stands at around 9.9%, independent economists argue that the actual figure is considerably higher.
Last year, the Bangladeshi taka experienced a depreciation of around 25 percent against the US dollar, which led to increased costs for fuel imports and power utilities. In February of the same year, the International Monetary Fund approved a support package worth $4.7 billion for Bangladesh.
The South Asian nation has been struggling with summer and heatwaves as well. The soaring temperatures have resulted in high electricity demand which led to frequent power outages lasting up to five hours a day. On Monday, Bangladesh recorded a temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius, prompting the government to temporarily close primary schools until Thursday in an effort to combat the heat.