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Unit-1 of Rampal power plant to go into commercial run in October

The unit-1 of the 2x660MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Project at Rampal will go into commercial run in October, raising further the country’s electricity generation capacity, as all necessary steps, including successful synchronization with the national grid, have already been completed.

In a major step in further strengthening India-Bangladesh Power Sector Cooperation, Unit-I of the 2×660 MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Project was successfully synchronized with the national grid on August 15, 2022 providing 91.7 MW of electricity to the national grid.

Being built at an estimated cost of Taka 16,000 crore, the plant aims to produce a total of 1,320 MW of electricity in its two units (660 megawatts in each), BSS reports.

The completion of construction of Unit-I of the Power Plant is expected to be jointly announced by the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in the first week of September 2022.

During a field-visit to the plant, it was seen that the construction work of this mega structure was going on in full swing aiming to make operationalize commercially the first unit of the plant by October this year while the 2nd unit by March next year.

Talking to reporters at the project site, project director Subhash Chandra Pandey said that their plan is to run commercially the first unit of the plant by October this year.

“The reliability test is already done,” he said, adding that the commercial run of the unit-1 could have been possible much earlier had there been no impact of the COVID-19 as the pandemic had eaten up more than one year.

Responding to the issue of coal, he said that around 50,000 metric tons of coal has already arrived at the plant site while two more ships loaded with coal are expected to arrive in September.

The project director informed that a long-term coal agreement is already under the process, but it would take some time.

Apparently to address the environmental issues in a more judicious manner, Pandey said, four huge sheds are being constructed having coal storage capacity of one million metric tons. “Once these sheds are completed, it will be good enough for running three-month operation of both the units,” he added.

Responding to another question, he said that the production cost of per unit electricity from such plant depends on the imported coal price and it is also variable. “It depends on the cost of the coal outside and also depends on the market price of imported coal.”

He also informed that for running operations of the plant, coal would be imported from countries like Indonesia and South Africa.

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is being constructed under the Government of India’s Concessional Financing Scheme. It is being built by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Private Ltd. (BIFPCL), a 50:50 Joint Venture Company between India’s NTPC and Ltd and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).

The 1320 (2×660) MW coal-fired thermal power plant is being setup at a cost of approximately US$ 2 billion and is located in Rampal, in the Bagerhat district of Khulna Division.

According to the project officials, the physical progress of the power plant till July this year is 85.25 percent while that of financial progress is 82.05 percent with an expenditure of Taka 13,128 crore. The Indian Exim Bank is providing loan around Taka 12,800 crore out of the total project cost of Taka 16,000 crore.

Situated on some 915.5 acres of land, cent percent power to be generated from this plant would be supplied inside Bangladesh. To transmit and thus distribute electricity from this plant, the 230 KV double circuit line to Khulna is ready while the 400 KV double circuit line to Dhaka is now ready up to Gopalganj.

The Maitree Power Plant is being set up with Super Critical Technology to actively mitigate environmental impact. Some of the in-built measures to minimise air and water pollution, inter-alia, include a Flue Gas Desulphurization System (FGD) with no bypass to control the emission of SOx, Integrated Effluent and Waste Management System to avoid contamination of Pasur River, construction of the tallest Chimney in Bangladesh (at 275 m) for wider dispersion of flue gas emissions, construction of an advance Ship Unloader for coal as well as a fully covered Coal Stock Yard, along with use of High Grade imported coal with low Ash and Sulphur content, among other measures.

On April 6, 2022, the 400 kV GIS Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer of the Power Plant was energized. Since then, it has been providing wheeling facility of the 400 kV power from the Payra Power Project to the 230 kV grid system of Bangladesh to enable the Power Grid Corporation of Bangladesh to transmit additional power towards Khulna region to address peak demand.

After completion and successful synchronization of Unit-I of the Power Plant, further synchronization related activities are currently being undertaken following which Unit-I will be handed over to Bangladesh. Unit-II of the Power Plant is expected to be commissioned early next year – likely in March. Once both Units are commissioned, the Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is expected to be one of the largest power plants in Bangladesh.

During the implementation period, the BIFPCL also conducted various community development initiatives like providing drinking water facility, skills development, running special medical camps and afforestation activities as some 1,16,000 saplings have so far been planted as on date.