Importance of integrated energy planning

Publish: 9:38 PM, September 6, 2021 | Update: 9:38:PM, September 6, 2021

It is very important to address the overall energy situation under a carefully considered master plan that would address all sides to the development of energy sources. Once it is firmed up as soon as possible and clear signals are received about its full implementation, the same will raise investors’ confidence and accelerate the growth momentum in the economy. Essentially, such a comprehensive plan for the energy sector must be an ‘integrated’ one forging relationships in developmental activities between the energy sector’s sub sectors to lead cumulatively to a desired outcome.

For example, both power generation and supply capacities have increased a great deal. Serious load shedding is now more in the imagination of people than a reality. But the dilapidated transmission systems frustrate efficient distribution of power . Even after additional generation of power, users cannot have the benefits of the same all the time at all places as worn out transmission lines fail to supply the additionally available power efficiently to them ; the lines are found frequently getting disabled by accidents. Thus, complete overhauling of the transmission lines needs to be a priority as much as the on going all out drive to boost production of power in tandem with targets.

There will have to be comprehensive plans to know what the effective demand for electricity is in the country and what would be that demand, say, twenty-thirty years from now. More significantly, it has to be similarly known how much of that power would be aimed for production by using gas. And then it would be very important to take stock of whether this amount of additional gas would be produced in the coming years along with installation of capacities to produce power from gas. In that case, matching investments will have to be made in the gas sector in exploration and production activities to find new deposits of gas and getting it ready for supply to the power plants. In sum, there will have to be synthesis in the operations of the two major sub-sectors in the energy sector–power and gas — so that the main goal of energy availability for the users can be smoothly and progressively met.

The integrated policies in the energy sector must also examine and clearly prepare a vision and guideline for the development of energy sources in the other sub sectors such as coal, non conventional power from wind, sun’s rays, nuclear power, biofuel, etc. Steps to be taken for the development of all of these alternative energy sources should also be an integral part of the integrated plan for the development of the energy sector as a whole. For instance, plans should provide clear projections of the requirements of energy to be met by the non conventional sources so that the same do not conflict with planning objectives in the areas of the conventional sources of energy.

According to reports, the country’s lone crude oil refining plant, Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) currently produces 1.5 million tons of refined fuel oil and other petroleum products whereas the annual demand for the same is 3.7 million tons. Thus, when production at ERL has been remaining static or stagnant in the face of rising demand, the state owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has had no other option in this situation than importing directly huge quantities of refined oil and other petroleum products from international markets at higher prices in the past. Clearly, the energy costs for the country could be much lower if the ERL had been functioning at higher capacity. According to various projections, the country’s demand for refined oil and other petroleum products would reach some 10 million tons by 2030. In order to meet this demand, ERL needs to set up its second refining plant at the fastest apart from carrying out the urgent balancing, modernization and overhaul of the existing plant. Government must mobilize funds on emergency basis for the ERL’s expansion and overhauling . The government may decide to have long term contracts with suppliers of crude oil to get the same at stable prices. But for receiving and storing of crude oil also, the capacities of the ERL will have to be much increased and improved.

Meanwhile, the country’s own gas production must be increased and also exploration activities to find more hydrocarbons. It seems that pockets of oil in the existing gas fields have been already found. Some of this oil, known as condensate, is already in use. More condensate can probably be found in the existing gas fields and turned into fuel oil for various uses. A major aim should be to use a bulk of the produced gas in the country’s road transportation sector by replacing the use of imported diesel, petrol and octane with compressed natural gas (CNG). The rate of CNG conversion of vehicles will have to be speeded up for the purpose and the number of CNG fuelling stations also must be simultaneously set up in greater number so that the CNG converted vehicles can be serviced smoothly.

Conservation of power also must be recognized and addressed as a priority under comprehensive energy planning. One may be astounded to know how much of power is simply wasted every day from keeping light bulbs switched on carelessly as the users have underhand deals with meter readers to pay fixed amounts in bills no matter how much power they consume.

Shopping malls remain lighted up long beyond authorized hours and even the publicly operated street lights can be seen burning in the day time because someone has had no time to switch them off from a central control point.Easy bikes that run on power suck up freely hundreds of megawatts of power from the supply lines for charging their batteries. There is no regulation in the matter.Unauthorized and temporary connections are taken from power supply lines and there is hardly any control over such thieves. In sum, only from stopping such lack of care and stealing, nearly one fourth of the current effective demand for electricity in the country can be met.

Approximately 60% of our country’s daily electric power consumption is used to run electric motors. The digital intelligent motor controllers (IMCs) when installed with an induction motor provides optimal power management and results in energy savings up to 40%. An IMC also can increase a motor’s life by decreasing its operating temperature. It is estimated that with the application of IMCs, we can save up to 720 MW electricity daily. Consumers in Bangladesh still are largely hooked to incandescent bulbs (IBs). But the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can give the same illumination as that of an IB with 80% less energy. Moreover, the life span of CFLs are 10 times higher than IBs..In Bangladesh, auxiliary consumption of the power plants is about 6 to 7% of total generation. By proper energy auditing, energy management and installation of the latest energy efficient devices, auxiliary power consumption in the power plants can be reduced significantly.