Turning wind into wonder: 20MW being supplied to national grid from country’s lone wind power plant

    Originally published in The Business Standard on 25 June 2023

    A set of 10 tall, imposing turbines jut out from the landscape in Cox’s Bazar’s Khurushkul in Cox’s Bazar.

    The over 200 feet long towers are hard to miss.

    As the wind picks up, the blades of the turbines start to rotate. Before it was a waterbody and no other structure to impede the wind.

    This is the country’s first and largest wind power plant. And this is just the start.

    The march towards 40% electricity from renewable sources by 2041 has also already begun, with the wind power plant adding an average of 20 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid every day experimentally.

    The 60 MW plant, which came into operation on a pilot basis last month on 25 June, gave some 27 lakh kilowatt hours of electricity last month, officials said.

    Commercial production of the wind farm will begin in September or November. A total of 60 MW electricity will be added to the grid from here.

    US-DK Green Energy Bangladesh Limited is implementing the Chinese-funded wind power project.

    Equipment for the project, worth around Tk900 crore, has been brought from China.

    So far, 10 turbines have been installed near the Khurushkul tributary of the Bakkhali River in Cox’s Bazar, of which seven are being used.

    Engineer Mukit Alam Khan, project manager of US-DK Green Energy Limited, said the 60 MW wind power project was connected to the national grid on 25 May.

    “It started providing electricity to the national grid from 26 May. In the last one month, 27 lakh kilowatt hours of electricity has been added to the national grid. Hopefully, the rest of the project will be completed soon and it will go into commercial production.”

    He said 22 turbines are being constructed in three other unions under the environment-friendly power sector expansion project.

    Speaking to The Business Standard, Director of US-DK Green Energy Limited Sajid Rahman said, “Around three megawatts of electricity will be produced from each tower. And the tower also takes less space. A big advantage of this is that when we use wind power, all kinds of farming, including fish and rice, can be held around it. As a result, wind power does not have any adverse effect on the economy. Through this project we can supply clean energy to the national grid of the country.”

    Project Director Engineer Md Abdul Quader Gani said, at the moment, 15 to 21 MW electricity is being experimentally supplied to the national grid from the Cox’s Bazar 60 MW power project.

    “There are 10 turbines, but seven are operational now. The other three are being worked on. During the afternoon, when the wind picks up, each is producing around three MW electricity. All are connected to the Cox’s Bazar Power Station.”

    Engineer Md Abdul Quader Ghani said 10 out of 22 turbines have been completed. The remaining 12 installations are progressing at a fast pace.

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the COP26 conference had declared her government’s plan to generate 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2041.

    Efforts have been underway to this end.

    But the plant in Cox’s Bazar is not the first one.

    The Bangladesh Power Development Board constructed a 0.9MW wind-based power plant near the dam along the River Muhuri in Sonagazi upazila under Feni district in 2005.

    Three years later, a 1MW wind power plant was constructed in Kutubdia, Cox’s Bazar.

    Both the plants are now out of operation due to a lack of supervision and interest of the power development board.

    The biggest advantage for Bangladesh from the Cox’s Bazar green power project would be that it would not have to depend on any imported fossil fuel but only year-round natural wind to generate this power.

    The 724km long coastal region of the country is suitable for wind power generation as there is significant wind power generation potential, according to a report of energytrackerasia, a renewable energy advocacy group.

    Bangladesh has vast potential to exploit this renewable energy source, which still remains untapped.

    The Power Division says the government will set up a dozen wind power plants in the country which are expected to add more than 500MW of electricity to the national grid.

    Apart from the 60MW one in Cox’s Bazar, three more wind power projects with a cumulative power generation capacity of 102MW are underway in Sirajganj, Bagerhat, and Chuadanga districts that will be completed next year.