Bangladesh to set clocks ahead to save energy

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will set its clocks one hour ahead from June 20 to save daylight time as the country struggles to cope with a power shortage, officials said on Monday.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who promised before her December election to address the power crisis.

The electricity shortage has caused protests, some of them violent. The country has a daily shortfall of 2,000 megawatt power against demand for 5,000 MW and officials have said the shortfall will reach 8,000 MW a day by 2011.

“We could save up to 250 megawatts of electricity a day by introducing the (daylight saving) system,” a power ministry official said.

Bangladesh’s decades-old power plants are mostly fuelled by gas, but the country’s reserves are depleting, officials said. It faces a shortage of up to 250 million cubic feet of gas a day.

The government has temporarily closed down several fertiliser manufacturing plants to divert the natural gas they use to generate more electricity.

Frequent power failures cut the country’s gross domestic product by around $1 billion annually, the World Bank has said, and the country would need $1.5 billion annual investment for power generation and transmission, and natural gas exploration.