Winds of change approaching Bangladesh as new wind power plant opens

    Originally posted in Asia News Network on 20 April 2023

    “Are you talking about those big pankhas?” auto-rickshaw driver Osman Ali responded when this reporter asked to take him to the wind power plant in Khurushkul area of Cox’s Bazar.

    The 60-megawatt plant is popularly known as Pankha, a Bangla word that means a fan, to locals because of the wind turbines with long blades.

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    While visiting the project area stretching over five kilometres on the outskirts of Cox’s Bazar town, the reporter saw several wind turbines standing on the salt field, and construction works of others were going on in full swing.

    This is the biggest wind power plant under construction in the country, a place where the contribution of renewable or green energy in the energy mix is less than four percent. This plant is a small yet significant step of the government to expand clean energy production to 40 percent by 2041, as pledged

    The plant is good enough to provide electricity to Cox’s Bazar town and its surrounding areas, which requires an average of 40 MW each day, according to Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDP) sources.

    US-DK Green Energy (BD), a private firm, is implementing the project at a cost of $116.51 million.

    “We are expecting to complete the construction work and start power generation by next December,” said project manager Mukit Alam Khan.

    He said they are constructing 22 turbines, with each having a capacity of producing 3 MW of electricity, in four unions — including Khuruskul, Chawfaldandi, PM Khali and Pokkhali — under Sadar upazila, adding that 10 have already been installed.

    Mukit Alam said two turbines will be installed as standby.

    The height of a tower is 90 metres, while each of the blades is 60 metres long, he added.

    “We need an average wind speed of 5.5 metres per second [m/s] to generate power since we are using modern technology. And for running the turbines at full capacity, we need a minimum 10 m/s wind speed,” Mukit said, adding that they were getting even 15 m/s wind speed at the project area.

    He said that Wuling Power Corporation Ltd, a subsidiary of China’s State Power Investment Corporation Limited, is funding the project.

    The company will sell electricity to state-owned BPDB at $0.12 per unit, he said.

    “We hope that we will be able to contribute 145 gigawatts per hour of electricity to the national grid in a year,” Mukit said.

    Earlier on March 31, 2022, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid laid the foundation stone of the project.

    Currently, the total capacity of the other three wind power plants — two in Kutubdia of Cox’s Bazar and one in Sonagazi of Feni — is a mere 2.9 MW, according to the Sustainable Renewable Energy Development Authority’s (SREDA) website.

    It is less than one percent of the total 966.71 MW of green energy produced in the country per day, with solar contributing 732.64 MW and hydro 230 MW, according to SREDA.

    Imtiaz Ahmed Faridi, deputy director of Independent Power Producer Cell-3 of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), said the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity will be $0.12, and the company will supply the electricity for 20 years according to the contract.

    The project was supposed to be finished by December last year, however, the tenure has been extended to December this year, but this will not cause any financial loss to Bangladesh, Imtiaz said.