Thar coal project can end energy shortage

Thar coal project can end energyPosted by Faheem Belharvi

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 – Karachi—The Thar Coal Project which has the potential to change the energy landscape of Pakistan continues to moving slowly the good intentions of the Prime Minister and the country’s economic managers notwithstanding. Stakeholders believe that vested interests are ensuring it does not happen.

The cost of the project is a big issue as it would require initial funding starting from one billion dollar to three billion dollars plus the infrastructure cost the Government will have to incur in developing the barren region. Out of all the projects Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a joint venture company between the Government of Sindh and Engro Powergen Limited, is the most advanced, but it is now faced with a situation where funding, policy and political will is required at all levels of Government.

Experts claim that to overcome the current energy crisis, Pakistan has no other alternative except development of indigenous energy resources. Thar coal fields have estimated lignite reserves of 175 billion tons which is equivalent to total oil reserves of Iran & Saudi Arabia combined that could be utilised to produce 100,000MW of power for 200 years. Furthermore there is so much coal that it could even be exported it to India.

Thar coal based power tariff will be much lower than RFO based power tariff, which means that general consumers could get electricity at much cheaper rate than what they are paying right now. Thar Coal is also competitive viz-a-viz imported coal and LNG.

Currently, Pakistan’s effective power generation capacity stands at 14,000MW. At the current growth rate, Pakistan will require 26,000MW by 2020 out of which around 10,000MW could be produced from Thar Coal. Primary objective of Thar Coal development is to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity to consumers using indigenous resource. Reliance on indigenous fuel will help save billions of dollars in foreign exchange which are currently being spent on import of expensive RFO (Refined Furnace Oil).

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