Matarbari power station

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Bangladesh and coal
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The Matarbari power station is a proposed 1200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired in Matarbari, Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Bangladesh. It is one part of the broader Maheshkhali power complex plan that includes several proposed coal and gas-fired plants.

A phase II of 1200 MW is proposed.

Plans have also been floated for another 1200-1320 MW coal plant in Matarbari, phase III. These plans have been discussed by Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited,[1] and the project is also listed in the Bangladesh Master Plan, with a proposed commissioning of 2026.[2] However, there have been no developments on the project.


The map below shows the location of the proposed Matarbari power station.[3][4][5]

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Background on Matarbari

It was reported in March 2014 that "Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh (CPGCB) will get $4.53 billion loan according to the agreement with Japanese donor agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the construction of a 1200MW coal-fired plant at Matarbari on Maheshkhali Island in Cox's Bazar."[4][6]

In February 2014, the Daily Star described the approximately $4 billion price-tag of the Matarbari project as "staggering." The paper reported that a feasibility study had been conducted for the project by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPC). According to the study, the cost was far higher than the 1320 MW Rampal power station, which would cost at least $1.5 billion. The reason for the high price of the Matarbari project is the additional components: river dredging, transmission, land acquisition (Tk350 crore), and a port on Sonadia Island capable of receiving and unloading large ships. Power would cost nearly Tk 7 per kilowatt hour when the plant goes into operation in 2023.[7]

According the Daily Star's report on the Jica/TEPCO feasibility study, the project would begin construction in 2017. The site has six threatened species, including one bird and five reptiles. The plant would use ultra-supercritical technology. Its cooling water would be discharged into the sea "at an ambient temperature." It would have "elaborate air and water pollution control arrangements." The study promised that the plant would provide "full electrification of the local community."[7]

The Daily Star reported the implementation process as follows:[7]

As per the project's implementation schedule, the government needs to sign a loan agreement by late March and then appoint a consultant. But due to the volatile political situation since late last year, progress to this end has been stalled. Officials at this point are not sure about when the loan agreement could be signed and with whom.

The schedule also says that the basic design, bid documents preparation and floating of the tender for prequalifying power companies for this project would be done within next year and the contract would be awarded in 2016 so that a 52-month construction can begin in 2017.

However, in August 2014 the Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal announced that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) had approved the project and that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funding for the project was US$3.8 billion as a "soft loan." The Minister stated that he hoped that the first 600MW unit of the plant would be commissioned in 2018.[8]

In January 2015 the project was approved as part of the government's priority-based "Fast-Track Projects".[9]

According to a February 2016 report, construction will begin in late 2016, with Sumitomo Corporation and Marubeni Corporation shortlisted to build the plant. The amount of the loan is US$3.7 billion, with an interest rate of 0.1 percent over 30 years after an initial 10-year grace period. The thermal efficiency of the plant is estimated at 41.3 percent.[10]

In November 2016 it was reported bidding between Marubeni Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation on constructing the plant would be extended to 2017.[11]

In January 2017 Marubeni and a consortium of Toshiba-Sumitomo submitted technical and financial bids for the US$4.5 billion coal project.[12] In May 2017 it was reported that the bids had been evaluated and the contract was expected to be awarded by June 2017 and physical works by July 2017.[13][14]

In June 2017 it was reported that Marubeni had been rejected as its financial offer was allegedly not satisfactory. The technical evaluation committee (TEC) of the project has recommended Sumitomo Corporation as the eligible bidder. A pre-contract negotiation with Sumitomo is supposed to be finalised within two months.[15]

In July 2017 it was reported construction by Sumitomo Corporation would begin in August 2017, with operation planned for 2024. Sumitomo will also build the Matarbari Port.[16]

In September 2017 it was reported that a Japanese consortium comprising Sumitomo Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, and IHI Corporation signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the 1,200 MW coal-fired power plant. It was reported as under construction and is expected to be completed in July, 2024.[17][18] In March 2018 it was reported that "two percent of the main work of this plant has been done",[19] although it is preparatory land development work. The main construction work of the power plant is planned to start in 2020.[20]

To develop the project, the ground needs to be raised 10 meters above mean sea level. In April 2019, it was reported that land development and channel excavation was 70% completed.[21]

Planet satellite photos from February 2018 to September 2019 show significant dredging and land clearing, and from October 2019 to May 2020 show preliminary construction work has begun.

In April 2021, project sponsor Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) announced a phase I cost overrun of roughly US$2 billion, and asked for a time extension by 3.5 years "up to December 2026 from the existing deadline of June 2023 for execution of the project".[22]

In May 2021, the Financial Express reported that phase I is 45% complete.[23]


Since 2014 the project has been uniquely financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with five separate overseas development assistance loans. Due to the project's use of ultra-super critical technology, part of JICA's original justification for its involvement was that "this project will mitigate climate change in addition to alleviating the power shortage and improving the stable power supply in Bangladesh."[24] JICA's five low interest loans total approximately US$2.79 billion. Its latest US$1.33 billion loan reached financial close in July 2020.[25]

Nippon Export and Investment Insurance is providing export credit insurance coverage for the project and in 2017 it estimated the total project costs to be JPY 500 billion (approximately US$4.5 billion). Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation is the project's Financial advisor.[26]

In March 2021, it was reported that JICA was conducting an environmental and social impact assessment for the proposed Phase II expansion of Matarbari which would be the basis for a JICA decision on providing further financing. According to Naoki Ito, Japan's ambassador to Bangladesh, "In spite of difficulties, my government decided to do a survey and research on unit 3 and 4."[27]

Project impacts

According to local news reports, the construction of Matarbari Phase 1 blocked watergates and natural drainage systems designed to drain flooding caused by monsoons and cyclone-induced storms, “resulting in water logging after heavy rainfall, causing immense suffering for locals”.[26] In 2018, 22 out of 31 villages were waterlogged and inundated, and local communities reported “five incidents of death by drowning, of which all were children.”[28] Seven school children were also severely injured by a boat sinking incident during their commute from school.[26]

Villagers who were evicted due to the construction of the Matarbari Kohelia coal plant. Photo Credit: Sharif Jamil, Waterkeepers Bangladesh

The land acquisition process for Matarbari Phase 1, which commenced in 2013, has resulted in the loss of people’s homes and livelihoods.[29] The process has caused upset because the community was not properly consulted and, to date, not adequately compensated. Displaced families have not been relocated to new housing facilities promised by the project proponents, forcing some to migrate and resettle elsewhere.[30] The communities have also lost traditional livelihoods in salt cultivation and shrimp farming, leaving 20,000 people without the means to make a living.[31]

Potential air pollution impacts are also expected to be severe and, given the extensive Japanese interest in the project, would not be acceptable in Japan. According to a research report by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and Greenpeace Japan, Matarbari Phase 1 would not meet the pollution standards applied to new plants constructed in Japan. The report finds pollution from Matarbari Phase 1 alone would cause up to 14,000 premature deaths during its operational years.[32]

Worker issues

COVID-19 Workers' Strike

The 3,000 labourers at the Matarbari construction site have been forced to work during the COVID-19 pandemic despite strict government orders to stop. In April 2020, the workers went on strike demanding their right to safe health. When probed by reporters, a CPGCBL spokesperson denied any grievances by workers and stated that work will continue.[26]

Two workers die during construction

On July 13, 2020, it was reported that two workers died during construction of the Matarbari plant when an electric pillar fell. The pillar fell on one worker, killing him instantly. Another worker was on the pillar when it fell and died later in the hospital.[33]

Phase II

In June 2019 it was reported that to reduce the production cost of Matarbari, another power plant will have to be constructed. According to EnergyBangla, "the per unit power production cost with imported coal will be around Tk. 6.5. But at Matarbari, the cost will be Tk 13.5. If another power plant is constructed then it will be able to use the same infrastructure. As a result, the production cost will fall."[34]

Phase II is listed in the Bangladesh Master Plan (updated in November 2018), with a proposed commissioning of 2028.[35]

To establish phase II, the government has asked loan assistance from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). Phase II will be two additional units. It is planned that Sumitomo Corporation, Toshiba and IHI Corporation of Japan will build the plant. Reportedly 1608 acres of land have been acquired.[34]

On June 19, 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) confirmed that it had decided to proceed with a preparatory survey by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the proposed Phase 2. JICA appointed Tokyo Electric Power Services Co Ltd (TEPSCO) to conduct the survey. The EIA is expected to be completed by October 2021. In a joint statement, and other NGOs called for the Japanese government to stop the survey, saying new solar was already cheaper than new coal power in Bangladesh; that the project was not in line with Japan's climate commitments; and that phase I of Matarbari was already resulting in severe disruptions to people's livelihoods.[36]

In November 2020, Toshiba said it will stop taking orders for new coal plants in line with the growing global trends toward reducing carbon emissions. Existing projects such as Toshiba's involvement in phase I of Matarbari will be grandfathered in, but the company's decision appears to rule out its involvement in phase II of Matarbari.[37]

On November 19, 2020, The Daily Star reported that Bangladesh's power, energy and mineral resources ministry had finalized an energy plan that cancelled all coal plants except five under construction. Only phase I of Matarbari is listed; Phase II will likely be cancelled as a result. The ministry will soon send the plan to the Prime Minister's Office for review.[38]

In May 2021, Sumitomo Corporation announced its new "Revision to Policies on Climate Change Issues". Although Sumitomo said it will not be involved in any new coal power generation projects, it explicitly left Matarbari phase 2 (units 3 and 4) as an exception.[39]

Maheshkhali power complex

Matarbari power station is part of a large multi-plant complex being organized by the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). In August 2013 the BPDB announced that it intended to develop a multi-plant power complex at Cox's Bazaar, including both coal-fired plants and combined cycle gas-fired plants. The announcement stated that the BPDB "intends to build 6000 MW Ultra Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Plant and 3000 MW LNG Based Combined Cycle Power Plant in different phases at Maheshkhali Upazila in Cox’s Bazar District." The announcement stated that the fuel for the projects would be imported coal and liquified natural gas. Five thousand acres were in the process of aqcquisition, situated within Amabassaya, Honanok and Panir Chhara mouza of Hoanok Union and Gharibhanga mouza of Kutubjhom union under Maheshkhali upazila, Cox’s Bazar. Ultra-supercritical technology would be employed by the coal plants, which would be sized at 600 to 1000 MW per unit.[40]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh
  • EPC Contractor: Sumitomo Corporation
  • Location: Maheshkhali Upazila, Cox's Bazar District, Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • Coordinates: 21.7018395, 91.8834003 (exact)[3]
  • Status: Construction (Units 1&2), Announced (Units 3&4)
  • Gross Capacity: 2400 MW (Units 1-4: 600 MW)[7]
  • Type: Ultra-supercritical[41]
  • Projected in service: 2026 (Units 1&2), 2028 (Units 3&4)
  • Coal Type: Sub-bituminous[3]
  • Coal Source: Imported
  • Source of financing: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with loans totalling US$2.79 billion as of July 2020

Articles and resources


  1. "‘5,500 MW from Matarbari will bring revolutionary progress in Bangladesh’s power sector’,", September 30, 2018
  2. 2016 Master Plan "Revisited", Bangladesh Power Division, Nov 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "About CPGCBL: Project Brief," CPGCBL, accessed September 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 "MATARBARI 1200MW POWER PROJECT: $4.3b loan deal in March likely" Progress Bangladesh, July 24, 2013.
  5. "Consulting Services for Design and Supervision of Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project" Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL), February 2014.
  6. "JICA may finance Moheshkhali coal-fired power plant" The Financial Express, January 27, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Maheshkhali to house massive power plant," Daily Star February 11, 2014
  8. "Target a complete electricity hub: Govt approves largest ever investment proposal for coal-based project near Maheshkhali", The Daily Star, August 13, 2014.
  9. "Matarbari Power Project and Paira Port Project included for fast track status," Bangladesh Awami League, Jan. 7, 2015
  10. Jagaran Chakma, "Japanese cos shortlisted for Matarbari power project," The Independent, 7 February 2016
  11. "Bidding time extended further," Daily Observer, Nov 25, 2016
  12. "Matarbari coal power project back on track," Daily Star, Mar 2, 2017
  13. Shahnaj Begum, "Sumitomo Corpn to get Matarbari power plant job," BD Observer, 15 May, 2017
  14. "Marubeni Lowest Bidder For Matarbari Power Plant," Energy Bangla, March 23, 2017
  15. "Matarbari power plant project in doldrums," Dhaka Tribune, June 22, 2017
  16. "Japan consortium to build power station, port in Bangladesh," Nikkei Asian Review, July 30, 2017
  17. "Consortium to build coal power plant, sea port at Matarbari," The Independent, Sep 27, 2017
  18. "Matarbari port to be turned into a deep-sea port," The Daily Star, Jan 7, 2018
  19. "No progress in 19 power plants yet," The Bangladesh Post, March 9, 2018
  20. "Work on Matarbari power plant goes fast," Bangladesh Post, October 16, 2018
  21. "Dream Islands," Energy and Power, April 19, 2019
  22. Humayan, Kabir (2021-04-22). "Matarbari fast-track power project in need of more fund and time". The Financial Express. Retrieved 2021-05-25.
  23. Kabir, Humayan (2021-05-22). "Mega projects, not Covid priority areas, secure more allocations". The Financial Express. Retrieved 2021-05-25.
  24. "Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement with the People’s Republic of Bangladesh," Japan International Cooperation Agency press release, Jun. 16, 2014.
  25. "Japan International Cooperation Agency," IJGlobal, accessed Aug. 6, 2020.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Stop Matarbari Coal Power Projects, Market Forces, Jun. 12, 2020
  27. Japan eyes overseas coal units in Bangladesh, ignores climate pressure, Hindustan Times, Mar. 23, 2021
  28. Cox's Bazar: Maheshkhali - Water logging Relief Web, Jul. 9, 2018
  29. ‘Displaced by development’ The Daily Star, Dec. 1, 2018
  30. The tourist capital of Bangladesh endangered by plans to build the largest coal power hub in the world Waterkeepers Bangladesh report, Nov. 2019
  31. Hasan Mehedi, "Initial Observation of BWGED on Matarbari Coal Power Plant," Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt, Aug. 7, 2018
  32. "A Deadly Double Standard: How Japan's financing of highly polluting overseas coal plants endangers public health," Greenpeace Southeast Asia and Greenpeace Japan, August 2019
  33. "Accident at Matarbari Coal Power Plant: 2 Workers Died on Spot," BWGED, July 13, 2020
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Plan to construct 2nd power plant to reduce cost of Matarbari project," Energy Bangla, May 31, 2019
  35. 2016 Master Plan "Revisited", Bangladesh Power Division, Nov 2018
  36. "Joint Statement: NGOs protest Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs decision on preparatory survey for Phase 2 of Matarbari coal-fired power plant (Bangladesh) despite climate crisis and surplus power supply". Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES). 2020-06-23. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  37. "Toshiba stops taking orders for coal-fired power plants". Nikkei Asia. 2020-11-10. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  38. Roy, Pinaki (2020-11-19). "Future not coal power". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  39. "Revision to “Policies on Climate Change Issues”," Sumitomo Corp, May 7, 2021
  40. ""Rendering Cconsultancy Services for Power Plant Projects at Maheshkhali Upazila in Cox's Bazar District of Bangladesh” Bangladesh Power Development Board, August 1, 2013.
  41. "Information Disclosure under new Guidelines" Japan International Cooperation Agency, accessed April 14, 2014.

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