Published:  03:11 AM, 16 May 2019

Nation on course towards self-reliance in energy

Nation on course towards self-reliance in energy Adviser to the Prime Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury giving an exclusive interview to The Asian Age at the PMO. -AA
Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi tells The Asian Age

"Bangladesh has been using the highest level of electrical power in the transport sector. The mode of transportation of the country has radically been changing with the increase in power in general."

The comments were made by Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, BB, PhD, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, in an exclusive interview with The Asian Age at the
Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday.

The Adviser pointed out that Bangladesh is foremost among countries using electrical power in vehicular movement. He added that other modes of transportation using such power will be introduced in the country soon.

Referring to the problems in power, gas, fuel and other areas, Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury asserted that Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in generating power for its own use. He cited the blue economy, gas and deep sea power plants as significant achievements for the country that will go a long way in meeting any challenges in the sector.

The adviser taught in the Economics Department of Dhaka University before joining the Civil Service of Pakistan in the mid-1960s. He joined the War of Liberation in March 1971 and played a pivotal role not only in the Mujibnagar administration but also as a sub-sector commander on the battlefield.

In the course of the interview, Dr Chowdhury recalled that the people of Bangladesh had waged war for the economic emancipation of the country by liberating it from the clutches of Pakistan. He stated that the government has been planning to introduce new gas policies for both the domestic and industrial sectors as a measure towards meeting the growing demand for the resource.

In this context, he pointed out that the government has undertaken a number of projects to develop the country's fuel sector and that measures are being taken with assistance from Russia, China and India.

'Renewable energy, hybrid technology, capacity building and training for personnel working in these sectors are a paramount need,' the adviser said, adding that investments in these sectors have been increasing day by day to meet the demand of the current century.

The Adviser said currently a total of 6 million homes in rural Bangladesh are powered by solar energy.  Renewable energy at only 10 per cent of total power generation costs can meet the demand for electricity. 'In the rural regions of Bangladesh, tens of thousands of electric power-driven vehicles are certainly strengthening the transport network in the country,' he stated.

Referring to government's plans to distribute gas and electricity among clients as per their demand and needs, Dr. Chowdhury said a first-come-first-served policy will be the determinant for the government in the distribution of power and gas.
The Adviser expressed his confidence that problems in the power sector will be fully solved by June this year, following which the government will turn its attention to the solution to problems in the gas sector.

New wells are being channelized with a view to exploring the off-shore regions of the country in order to tackle the gas problem, he said. 'Exploring gas from the seas is a time-consuming process and it will take between six and seven years to distribute the gas that will be explored offshore,' he added.

Dr. Chowdhury said that an Industrial gas supply policy is being prepared and Bangladesh Petroleum Institute has been assigned to look into the matter. The ongoing industrial units will get gas first, the Adviser said, adding that total requirement of gas in the country is 3,500 mmcfd, while the production is only 2,500 only mmcfd.

The government has been importing around 1,000 mmcfd from Qatar and Oman for meeting everyday demand.
The Adviser said that offshore gas exploration has been going on and many steps and measures have been taken to this end.

'There are huge stocks of gases. The gas problem will be fully solved within the next five to seven years,' Dr. Toufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said.

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