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Pakistan working on national coal policy

BY A CORRESPONDENT / 22 October 2007

ISLAMABAD —The government is actively working to launch a national coal policy aimed at attracting the much needed foreign investment in transfer of technology and to have a coal-based alternate energy source exploiting the coal reserves in Sindh province.

According to a study initiated by the Sindh Coal Authority, the Thar coal deposits are sufficient to meet fuel requirements of the country for centuries and would generate about 100,000 mega watt (MW) of electricity. Only 200 million tonnes Thar coal (lignite) can produce 1000MW electricity power up to 40 years in the country.

In Pakistan, the share of coal in energy has fallen from 68 per cent to 35 per cent and specifically 5 per cent in 2002 due to the increased share of natural gas and cheaper oil in the power generation of the country.

However, the scenario has now changed: gas reserves of the country are depleting as industrial units were extensively using the natural gas. At the same time, oil reserves of the country were limited with high cost of production, thereby putting increasing country’s oil import bill.

Renewable source of energy such as wind and solar produce are high cost energy, while nuclear energy requires public acceptance with safety issues and disposal of waste cycle. Hydel power generation is seasonal with environmental problems and displacement of population and rehabilitation.

The study reveals that, share of coal in country’s energy mix is to be increased at least 19 per cent by 2030 and 50 per cent by year 2050. Sindh lignite reserves are huge and suitable for power generation as compared to lignite being sued in the world for electricity generation. It is a cheap dependable energy source and would meet countries energy requirements for centuries.

Thar coalfield is spread over an area of 9000sq kilometer, which consists over 175 billion tonnes with proven coal reserves over 12 billion tonnes of six delineated blocks over an area of 500-kilo metres.

Indigenous resources are free from uncertainties of fuel supply and associated danger of dictation of oil prices by oil suppliers. Coal drive much of current global economic development and providing 23 per cent of global primary energy needs and generates about 39 per cent of the world energy.

Coal is to play integral role in the economic development of many countries and it can play a major role in addressing sustainable development in the filed of economic, social and environment. Pakistan coals are mostly lignite and Thar coal (lignite) with proved reserves of 12 billion tonnes has over burden ratio 5 to 7, which can be economically mined.

Clean coal technology is available, which has made possible to use lignite with zero emission.

Thar Coalfield: Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), discovered huge deposits of coals in 1992 at Thar during the research programme, assisted by United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Spread over an area of more than 9000 square kilometres with dimensions of 140 kilometres north south and 65 kilometres in the east-west possess 175.506 billion tonnes of coal.
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