Bangladesh Faces Power Blackout After National Grid Fails

On Tuesday, a massive power grid failure plunged 140M out of Bangladesh’s near 170M population into widespread blackouts. Only portions of the country’s northwest were unaffected.

Bangladesh Faces Power Blackout After National Grid Fails
Image credit: Paul Torres / Unsplash

Facts

  • On Tuesday, a massive power grid failure plunged 140M out of Bangladesh’s near 170M population into widespread blackouts. Only portions of the country’s northwest were unaffected.
  • The outage occurred suddenly at approximately 2 p.m. local time. Bangladeshi officials are investigating the cause of the presumed technical failure, with power expected to be restored to Dhaka Tuesday evening.
  • Bangladesh has struggled with energy security this year as skyrocketing natural gas prices — which comprise approximately 75% of the country’s power generation — forced the central government to impose regular outages to conserve energy. In July, three demonstrators protesting the outages and inflation were reportedly killed by security forces.
  • The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh also warned that telecommunications would likely be disrupted in parts of the country while the grid failure is in progress.
  • In July, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, urged citizens to conserve energy. Referencing the COVID pandemic and Ukraine war, Hamid stated, “The impact of the world has created huge volatility in the global energy market. The international food market is also in a dismal situation. This has put us in a dangerous situation.”
  • To diversify its energy sector, Bangladesh is looking to ramp up its capacity to generate power from coal domestically and through imports from India. In the coming months, Dhaka hopes to increase domestic coal energy production from 8% to 17% and increase its energy imports from 4% to 11%.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Ndtv, DW, Unb, Dhaka Tribune, and Spglobal.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Daily Star. Patience is needed as Bangladesh rides the global energy disruptions catalyzed by the Russia-Ukraine war. The downstream effects impact developing nations like Bangladesh especially hard. Nonetheless, Dhaka is pressing ahead with purchasing energy fields and planning to deliver power to the nation’s rural regions. These efforts will take some time under challenging global conditions.
  • Narrative B, as provided by TBS. There is certainly global energy stress, like the Ukraine War, but Bangladesh has long lagged in developing a diversified energy sector, including decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and imports. Dhaka needs to invest in solar power and explore domestic gas reserves if it hopes to be more resilient to global energy shocks and stressors.