KARACHI: Pakistan’s coal consumption is set to increase to 25 million tonnes by 2025, which is roughly 30 per cent higher than the current level of more than 19m tonnes.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday that coal consumption in Pakistan dropped 7pc in 2021 to 23m tonnes as its prices in the global markets surged to unusually high levels. The use of coal in Pakistan during 2022 is estimated to have fallen further by 3.8m tonnes, said the global intergovernmental organisation in a study released on Friday.
The reason for the drop in consumption of dirty fuel is the unaffordability of large seaborne imports, which forces the country to rely on supplies from domestic coal mines and land-based imports from Afghanistan.
“Additionally, the heavier-than-usual monsoon season brought severe flooding in June, covering more than one-third of the country’s land area and exacerbating the economic crisis,” it added.
The power sector, cement makers and the general industry are major consumers of coal in Pakistan. More than half of coal imports, which are lower than total consumption given the expanding production from the Thar coalfield, are still consumed by the power sector alone.
That’s the reason the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) is considering a proposal to convert imported coal-based power plants to Thar coal. In a recent report, the power sector regulator said imported coal power plants could use Thar coal for some percentage without any plant modifications.
Two power plants, Engro Powergen Thar and Thar Energy, run on local coal. Four coal-based electricity makers — Sahiwal Power Plant, Port Qasim Power Plant, China Power Hub Generation and Lucky Electric Power — burn the fuel imported mainly from South Africa and Indonesia.
Lucky Electric Power has been designed to operate on Thar lignite coal. However, it’s going to run on imported lignite coal until the completion of the third and final phase of mining within Block 2 under Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC).
Being the only company that’s mining coal from the Thar coalfield, SECMC extracted 3.8m tonnes of coal every year and sold its entire output to Engro Powergen Thar until recently. It doubled its mining capacity to 7.6m tonnes per year in October, which coincided with the commissioning of the 330-megawatt Thar Energy plant. Another power producer of 330MW, ThalNova Power Ltd, will soon start producing electricity, ensuring 100pc consumption of the enhanced output of SECMC’s mine in Block 2.
With the mining block’s third-phase expansion by June 2023, its output will increase to 12.2m tonnes per year. The increased mining will supply fuel to the 660MW power plant that Lucky Electric Power Company has just commissioned at Port Qasim.
The share of coal-based electricity in the country’s power generation mix in October was 15.5pc.
Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2022