Rampal power plant to start operation by September

Originally posted in Dhaka Tribune on 10 April 2022

A major milestone has been reached recently with the power flow being established to Payra Power Plant

Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The construction of the two-unit 1320MW coal power plant in Rampal of Bagerhat, near the Sundarbans, has recently gained momentum following missing a couple of deadlines. One of the 660MW units of the project is set to be operational in September this year.

The progress of unit-1 of the “Maitree Super Thermal Power Project” is over 90% completed now while overall progress stands at nearly 80%, according to the officials.

The project recently reached a major milestone as the Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer of the Maitree Plant was activated on Wednesday.

With this, the power flow has been established from the Payra Power Plant to the 400KV GIS Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer of the Maitree Plant Substation.

“Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer of the Maitree Plant have been activated,” said Sayeed Akram Ullah, managing director of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL).

“Probably, we can start operation of a unit within next September as per latest schedule,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Missing several deadlines

The BIFPCL under the Power Division is constructing the Tk160-billion-plant.

The BIFPCL had signed the engineering, procurement, and construction contract with the Indian Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in July 2016 for completing the 2X660MW power plant by December 2020.

However, the project missed deadlines a couple of times due to various reasons including the pandemic.

In 2017, the BIFPCL got a loan of $1.6 billion (Tk136 billion) from the Indian Exim Bank aiming to complete the construction work by 2020.

As per the revised deadline, the work was supposed to finish by December 2021 in line with the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence.

Project approaching completion

“The Rampal Maitree Power project is under the advanced stage of implementation and will start power generation soon. Now, the construction work of all the components of the Rampal Power Plant including boiler insulation is at the final stage,” Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka has recently told Dhaka Tribune.

According to the project officials, under unit-1, the turbine box-up of turbine generator-1 and the erection of the stator and rotor have already been completed.

The lube oil flushing of the erection stages of turbine-1 has also been completed while insulation work on the turbine and insulation work of fly-ash is at the final stage.

Meanwhile, the construction of the boiler structure and pressure part of unit 2 is progressing as well, said officials.

On Wednesday, Power flow was established from the Payra Power Plant to the 400 kV GIS Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer of the Maitree Plant Substation.

According to a press release, the 400kV GIS Switchyard and Interconnecting Transformer is providing a wheeling facility of the 400KV power from the Payra Power Project to the 230KV grid system of Bangladesh to enable the Power Grid Corporation of Bangladesh to transmit additional power towards the Khulna region to address peak summer demand.

Environmental concern

The construction of the coal power plant started in April 2017, amid a huge outcry at home and abroad by environmentalists, who expressed concerns over the long-term impact of the plan on the biodiversity and ecology of the mangrove forest.

In 2016, a Unesco report said that hot water and chemicals to be discharged into water bodies from the coal power plant would cause significant damage to the aquatic life in the river and canal networks of the Sundarbans.

According to the BHEL, the power plant is being set up with state-of-the-art Ultra Super Critical Technology to actively mitigate environmental impacts, while at the same time introducing coal power generation in a country with limited alternative fuel options.

Some of the in-built measures to minimize air and water pollution includes a Flue Gas Desulphurization system (FGD) without any bypass to control the emission of SOx, integrated effluent, and a waste management system to avoid contamination of Pasur River.