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Financing the Future

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How Bangladesh is utilizing investment from multiple international financial institutions to build one of the world’s most efficient and reliable transmission power grids.

Some people may remember when George Harrison and Bob Dylan played the “Concert for Bangladesh” to fund relief efforts following the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. Today however, Bangladesh's economy has grown roughly 6% per year since 2005, and its GDP real growth rate is now ranked 13th in the world. With a labor force of over 66 million people and exports totaling over $35 billion dollars, Bangladesh’s aging infrastructure and available power supply continues to be among the country’s top economic growth challenges. More recently, the arrival of over 700,000 refugees from Burma have exacerbated these issues and made the need for swift and effective change quite clear. Like the rest of the developing world, if Bangladesh wants to continue to grow and expand economically, having a reliable and sufficient means to power is absolutely paramount. Initiatives like “India Vision 2020” all over the world continue to highlight the necessity of reliable power to any country’s economic development.

Realizing such enormous need, International Financial Institutions like World Bank and Asian Development Bank have begun to take interest in the Bangladeshi power grid. With new financial backing from these and similar institutions, the Bangladeshi government began importing liquified natural gas (LNG) and looking at the country’s power supply system in an entirely different light. With generation capacity and electric demand at an all-time high, the question of power delivery and aging T&D infrastructure quickly became a burning issue. With solidified investment, it was now possible for the government to become proactive rather than reactive in terms of power supply and demand growth projections. Transmission planners and grid engineers began working on a solution that could effectively transport this increased generation without becoming obsolete or tired within 10-15 years of operation.

Until recently, the Bangladeshi transmission power grid was comprised mainly of ACSR and AAAC conductor. Many of these lines were located above highly populated villages and houses with sheet metal roofs, causing obvious safety concerns. Increased generation capacity and subsequent load on these lines could lead to largescale bodily harm if not dealt with in a timely manner. Right of Way (RoW) acquisition  concerns prohibited building vastly larger lines to meet expected demand. Utilizing the properties of advanced conductor technology was calculated to be by far the easiest and cheapest way to increase grid capacity and avoid grief.

The Power Grid Company Bangladesh (PGCB) technical team, now with international financial institution backing, looked at an array of different types of conductors to solve their grid congestion issues. They eventually chose ACCC® Conductor for its increased capacity within existing (RoW’s), decreased thermal sag, resistance to cyclic load fatigue, long span capabilities, corrosion resistance, and successful deployment of over 65,000 km on a global scale.

To date, Bangladesh has already installed over 2,000 km of ACCC Conductor at over a dozen projects ranging from 132 to 400 kV, financed by several international financial institutions. PGCB quickly recognized that an additional benefit of the ACCC conductor is that its lighter composite core allows a 28% increase in conductive aluminium without a weight or diameter penalty. The added aluminum content reduces electrical resistance and associated line losses which serves to free-up generation capacity that is otherwise wasted.

The Bangladeshi government, as well as their financiers, have recognized the implementation of Advanced Conductors as a proven cost-effective method to combat the issues of constrained grid capacity and reliability. Since then, other developing countries have begun emulating these cost-effective practices to gain access to efficient and reliable power themselves.

 

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