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November 12, 2015

Pakistan needs coal-based power projects to meet energy shortfall


November 12, 2015

LAHORE: Pakistan needs a score of coal-based power projects to bridge the widening gap between electricity demand and supply, said an energy expert.
The country produces 16,000 megawatts of electricity and local demand variably stands at around 22,000MW.
Chaudhry Abdul Qayyum, who is spearheading a key coal mining project in Thar district of Sindh, said China produces more than two-third of its electricity from coal, which cost-effectively fulfills the energy requirements of the second biggest economy of the world.
“By producing bulk of cheap electricity from coal, China has long been benefiting power consumers, particularly industrial and commercial category, through sufficiently meeting burgeoning power demand at much lower tariff,” Qayyum said. “This makes Chinese export industries competitive against Beijing’s global competitors.”
Energy experts agreed that the country should follow models and track success stories around the world to address its energy sector challenges.
The experts said resource-constrained federal government strives hard to make the energy-mix fuel efficient and economically viable.
They said coal is a leading source of energy, has a tremendous contribution to energy mix and will continue to lead in the foreseeable future despite hype created against its use due to global warming related concerns. The International Energy Agency (IEA) report 2015 said traditional coal-based economies like China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea will keep pursuing coal as a fuel in future.
In fact, the world is using more and more coal for generating electricity. Worldwide, there has been around two times jump in coal consumption between the 2000 and 2012 period.
In 2000, global coal consumption was 4.76 billion tons as against 7.69 billion tons in 2012, showing a 60 percent growth, said the IEA report. The report said coal consumption will reach nine billion tons/year in 2019.

reports said power companies are presently building more than 500 coal-fired plants in Asia alone, with at least a thousand more standing at the planning stage.
Coal is cheaper than natural gas and its import cost is lower.
Japan, a world’s top importer of liquefied natural gas, is aggressively opting coal for electricity generation.
Zahid Khan, who headed a leading oil and gas firm, said the prevailing trends in national power sector are unsustainable. “Conversion of power plants to coal is the only viable solution,” Khan said. The experts refused the negative implications of coal power generation on the environment. They said new technology has enabled environment-friendly power generation through coal.
China and India are increasingly using latest coal power generation technologies with the passage of time in order to address environment-related concerns. These two leading economies of the world are heavily investing in coal-based projects. India, which produces around half of its electricity from coal, has planned a series of ultra mega coal power projects, each having a mammoth capacity of 4,000MW or above.
The experts said coal-fired power plants are no more health hazardous, saying modern coal technologies employ fuel-saving supercritical boilers. Such boilers are meant to minimise the emission of greenhouse gases.
They said, however, the situation in Pakistan is a sheer contrast to what is happening in neighbouring countries as well as in rest of the world.
“Despite possessing one of the world's largest coal reserves, Pakistan relies on costly fuels for power generation,” said an expert, requesting anonymity.
A study said a block of Thar is blessed with coal reserves sufficient to generate 5,000MW of electricity for five decades. This block contains about two billion tons of lignite, which is just one per cent of the total Thar coal reserves.
The expert called for concerted efforts for harnessing local coal, saying power projects can initially be set up on imported coal as a medium-term solution. “Sitting on one of the biggest source of energy and facing chronic power deficits and abnormality high cost of energy is simply incomprehensible,” the expert remarked. “Coal happens to be one of the most sustainable remedies to the energy-deficit Pakistan.”

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