The construction of a coal-based power plant was planned to reduce costs in electricity production. However, despite the introduction of multiple power plants, the costs did not decrease significantly. The average cost of producing one unit of electricity from coal is over 12 Taka, including the costs of gas, oil, coal, and other fuel sources, which contribute to an average production cost of around 11 Taka.
A 1,200-megawatt capacity power plant, supported by Japanese assistance, has been constructed in Matarbari, Cox’s Bazar. The plant consists of two units with a capacity of 600 megawatts each. The inauguration of the first unit is scheduled for today (Saturday), with the second unit expected to start operating at the end of next month.
Sources suggest that the Matarbari power plant will be able to supply electricity at a lower cost due to reduced transportation costs for coal and easy loan terms. The project received financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), providing a loan of 43,921 crore Taka. The government’s contribution is 6,406 crore Taka, and the company’s own funding is 1,527 crore Taka. However, the actual expenditure may be slightly lower than the allocated budget, according to project officials.
The ownership of the power plant lies with the state-owned company Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL). Besides the power plant, they have also established a terminal in the deep sea, facilitating easy coal transportation. This differs from other power plants in the country, where coal is transported from large ships to smaller vessels before reaching the power plants. In Matarbari, coal is directly brought to the power plant from large ships.
The project’s total cost is estimated at 51,854 crore 88 lakh Taka. JICA provided assistance through seven loan agreements, and each loan agreement has a grace period from the time of completion until the next ten years for repayment. As a result, the repayment of the loan will begin in 2025.
The Matarbari power plant, using ultra-supercritical technology, is expected to reduce environmental pollution associated with coal-based power production. The plant requires around 13,000 tons of coal daily to operate at full capacity. The construction included the dredging of a 14.3-kilometer long and 300-meter wide channel to allow large ships carrying 80,000 tons of coal to reach the port. The unloading of coal may take up to two days.
Due to the lack of operational lines, electricity is not being transmitted from Matarbari to Chittagong. Instead, power is directly supplied from Matarbari to the Meghnaghat substation in Narayanganj. As there is already sufficient capacity in the Dhaka region, there is currently no additional demand for electricity from Matarbari. Therefore, the power plant is operating within its full capacity. The second unit is expected to start supplying electricity from December.
Abul Kalam Azad, the Managing Director of CPGCBL, mentioned that if there is demand, the full capacity of the first unit will be supplied. There is sufficient coal stock, and the supply of electricity from the second unit will commence in December. The price for each unit of electricity is expected to be close to 10 Taka, according to a proposal made to the Power Division.