The Payra 1,320MW Thermal Power Plant shut off completely on Monday with the closure of its second unit amid persisting coal shortage.
The plant's operations were shut at 12:10pm, Bangladesh Power Development Board spokesperson Md Shameem Hassan, also an engineer at the plant, confirmed to The Business Standard.
The shutdown of the major coal-fired plant is set to worsen the ongoing load shedding situation, especially in the southern region and a part of Dhaka where the plant used to supply electricity.
Earlier, the first unit of the plant was closed down on 25 May.
Nasrul Hamid, state minister of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, on Saturday, expressed hope that the unit would soon be able to resume operations. "We have made some significant progress in importing coal. Hopefully, Payra will be able to resume power supply from 25 June," he said at an event.
Dozens of plants shut over fuel crisis
Not just coal, the shortage of other types of fuel to generate electricity also led to the closures of dozens of power plants in the recent past, triggering power outages across the country amid heat waves.
On Sunday, a day before the complete shutdown of the Payra plant, power generation at units with 3862MW capacity in different plants was suspended while 50 units kept running at partial capacity.
The country could supply only 13,781MW of electricity against the demand for 15,700MW on Sunday – causing prolonged load shedding in the peak hours.
The maximum load shedding on Sunday was recorded at midnight on the day when 3024MW shortages were recorded.
Dollar crunch behind Payra closure
The two units of the Payra power plant required around 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of coal to run at full capacity. Bangladesh-China Power Company – the owner of the plant – has been importing coal from Indonesia since its establishment in 2018.
The ongoing dollar crisis, however, forced the authorities to import coal on credit and the due bills reached $390 million at the end of April. As the bills have become overdue, Indonesia has been refusing to supply coal further, resulting in the plant shutdown.
Payra Plant Manager Shah Abdul Moula, however, said the coal import is underway as they have made around $90 million payment in the outstanding bills.
"We are hopeful of resuming the plant by 25th to 30th June," he told The Business Standard.
The shutdown will intensify the power shortage in the national grid until the resumption as the plant used to inject around 1200MW of electricity per day. Hence, people in Barishal, Gopalganj and Dhaka who were beneficiaries of the plant would face prolonged load shedding.
At present, the country needs 15,500-16,000MW electricity per day, while the maximum supply hovers between 13,500MW and 14,000MW. Therefore, people and businesses face outages several times a day for around 2000MW shortage.