Thar Desert - Pakistan Full Of Energy
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Four projects of 2450 MW approved; govt to invest Rs80bn in five years on infrastructure
By Imtiaz Ali
KARACHI: The Thar Coal and Energy Board (TCEB) has approved four Thar coal reserves projects to generate up to 2,450 megawatt (MW) power, whose capacity would be increased up to 10,000 MW by year 2020, to meet the growing energy needs of the country.
This was decided in the fourth TCEB meeting, presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah at the Chief Minister House here on Saturday.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Chief Minister House, Qaim Ali Shah, Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf and Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said the Planning Commission (PC) would set up 50 MW underground gasification plants, to be completed within a year by using “indigenous technology” with help of nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand.
They said the Engro would set up a 1,000 MW power plant, which would be a joint venture of the Sindh government and the Engro.
They said Pepco would establish a 1,000 MW gasification plant. A private firm, Coujar, would also set up a 400 MW gasification plant, they added.
Tarin said both the federal and provincial governments would invest Rs 80 billion on infrastructure development in Thar in two to five years to facilitate investors for utilising 185 billion metric tonnes of coal there. He said diesel and fertiliser could also be made through underground gasification.
Qaim said initially, they had “reservations” over the gasification plants, but in the Saturday’s meeting, Dr Samar gave a satisfactory presentation. He said the PC would set up a pilot project of 50 MW through gasification, which would be followed by other such plants.
He said these projects would not only be beneficial for Sindh, but the country as well, as it would bring income, generate employment and improve the overall economy. He said infrastructure facility like water and airport and others would be provided to the investors.
Pervez Ashraf said these power projects would help overcome electricity crisis and fill a gap between demand and supply. He said another challenge before the government was to provide electricity at affordable rates. He said power generated through coal would cost Rs 2-3 per unit, while at present, its cost was Rs 8-9 per unit.
He said the purpose was to meet energy needs of the country, which would be increased up to 54,000 MW by year 2015. He said apart from utilising coal reserves, Ecnec approved recently construction of the Bhasha Dam for identical purpose.
He regretted that 185 billion metric tonnes of coal was not utilised in the past because of “different reasons.” He expressed the hope that the Thar coal reserves would “turn around” the economy of the country.
Tarin said work on transmission line of 5,000 MW would be started immediately, while within two-three years, work on 5,000 MW power would be started to generate 10,000 MW by year 2020.
He lamented that share of coal in the energy sector was negligible at present, though 48 per cent of the energy in the world was generated through coal, while its share in China’s energy stood at 70 per cent, and 54 per cent in India. He said the Thar coal reserves were put in “cold storage”, while its value was equal to oil resources of both Saudi Arabia and Iran. He said Thar had good quality of coal, from which up to 100,000 MW power could be generated for 200-300 years. “Today, we have taken the first step,” he said, adding that it was their first priority. He said the Engro would increase the capacity of its power plant up to 4,000 MW within the five to six years, while the capacity of 50 MW gasification plant would be increased up to 1,000 MW within three years.
Similarly, Pepco and Coujar would also progressively increase the capacity of their power plants. He said they wanted to bring “sanity” in the escalating prices of energy by utilising coal and initiating wind and solar energy projects in the future.
Answering a question, Qaim said it was a dream of slain Benazir Bhutto, who had initiated a project to generate 8,000 MW power within five-seven years during her tenure.
10,000 MW to be generated through Thar coal reserves by 2020