Coal Effective Remedy of Energy Crisis
July 08, 2011
The first decade of 21st century yielded mere crises for Pakistan. In post 9/11 era, war imposed by US and its allies caused major setbacks to country's growth and prosperity. Around $70 billion of taxpayers’ money has been spent in 10 years to fight war against terror in Pakistan. On the human front, the nation has rendered a sacrifice of 47,000 lives, including 7,000 troops. The loss is impossible to calculate when it comes to analyzing hesitant foreign investment.
Apart from flour and sugar crises, earthquake, floods and others problems Pakistani nation has seen in first 10 years of the century, the most threatening one to our economy is energy crisis. According to estimates, over 0.45 million people have become jobless and the figure is expected to go higher in upcoming years.
The Government of Pakistan has remained incapable of delivering the results since it pledged to fight with energy crisis, gifted by the previous regime, apart from ensuring Roti, Kapra aur Makan. Instead, it remained indulged in non-public affairs like dodging political parties, maintaining tussle with other state institutions, protecting corrupt party leaders, scoring points at times of calamities, breaking and making coalitions, etc.
In these circumstances, the government sacrificed public interests. Industry has badly been affected; circular debt is mounting, and unprecedented exports are of no avail since imports have broken all previous records.
The energy crisis alone has affected 2,500 industries in Pakistan. Hundreds of industrialists have shifted their industries to Bangladesh, Vietnam, UAE, China and other countries where they are attracted by subsidized energy facilities, tax free environment and advanced infrastructure.
This reminds us the 70s when PPP's nationalization policies destroyed private industry sector. It took almost 30 years to rebuild this sector and now it is again on the verge of destruction.
The government has chalked out no significant plans in meeting energy crisis, apart from pursuing the bogus policy of rental power plants. And now smooth supply of fuel for such plants is another challenge for the government since the country is already facing shortage of gas, whereas furnace oil is expensive.
Talking about natural gas, the government has signed a couple of agreements that are of worth, but it will not meet our needs. Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project would narrow the demand and supply gap only to 16%. Similar is the case with Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which does not absolutely meet country's energy requirements.
Another setback at this juncture is that outdated technology of boiler plants is in use for power generation from gas, which results in 50% loss of inputs. The country also needs to upgrade its technology to IGCCs as other countries are using this technology to maximize utility of gas.
The only way out for Pakistan is to exploit its own resources. Pakistan has a massive treasure of coal in southern part of the country at Thar, Sindh -- probably the third largest reserves in the world -- discovered 22 years back. Since then, the country has not utilized it for the generation of energy.
Now the government is pushed to exploit this resource on the recommendation of great Pakistani scientist and member Science and Technology of Planning Commission of Pakistan, Dr. Sammar Mubarakmand, who is given the task to dig out a well and set up a gasification plant on experimental basis, which is a 100 MW project. After successful completion of it's both phases, the country would gradually increase it capacity to generate bulk of energy.
World's overall energy production from coal is estimated at 41 percent, whereas only our neighboring country and rapidly growing economy in the world India has been producing 46.2 percent of its energy from coal. As against these figures, only two percent energy is being generated in Pakistan by coal, and this is the reason that today we are facing 5000 MW electricity shortage on daily basis. If circumstances remained the same, this shortage would cross 10,000 MW limit by 2030.