By. Dr.Abdul Razak Shaikh
The Thar Coal Power Project started electricity production on Tuesday ( Today) with 330MW of power being provided to the national grid.
Chief Minister Of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah hailed the development as “historic” and said that initially 330MW will be produced and distributed to the national grid.
He added that the production of electricity will be done in stages.
Thar has one of the world’s largest reserves of coal with 175 billion tonnes. We reached the target of producing electricity three months before the deadline.
Pakistan discovered the Thar coalfields in 1991. These contain the world’s seventh largest coal reserves of 175 billion tonnes, more than the combined oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and 68 times higher than Pakistan’s total gas reserves. SECMC is a group of seven stakeholders including the government of Sindh with 51 percent majority stake as well as Engro, the Habib Group, and Hubco.
The Thar coalfield is located in the Thar Desert, Tharparker District of Sindh province. .
Pakistan making it one of the largest lignite coal reserves in the world. Pakistan is currently facing a serious energy crisis: the energy shortfall exceeds 6,000 MW. The rapid increase in energy demand from growing demographic pressures and intense industrialization has contributed to the crisis. Coal plays a minor role in Pakistan’s energy mix, despite the Thar Desert having one of the largest undeveloped coal reserves in the world. Pakistan’s annual demand for coal exceeds supply; therefore, Pakistan relies upon imported coal to fulfill its requirements, particularly for industrial uses. The overall objective of developing Thar coal deposits is to generate electric power from in-country coal resources, to reduce the country’s dependence on imported coal, and to contribute towards bridging the gap between electricity supply and demand.
Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) has undertaken the execution of mining operations for coal extraction in the Thar coalfield, Block II, as a means of tackling energy deficiency across Pakistan. The area has exploitable lignite coal reserves of 1.57 billion tons. SECMC has made several investments for this project, which include the acquisition of land for the resettlement of communities, mining facilities and services, and power plants.
Tharparkar – the largest desert terrain in Pakistan – is home to a population of 1.5 million. Unlike other deserts across the world, the Tharparkar desert is not barren and dry, its flora and fauna flourish during the monsoon season, transforming its sand dunes to rolling green hills. The district is ranked the lowest amongst provincial socioeconomic indicators, and 32nd as per national comparison.
SECMC’s involvement and interaction with its local community during its mining, land acquisition and resettlement related activities will increase as it will work to benefit its people by building and developing sustainable and independent livelihoods, providing education and health care, housing, improved water and sanitation conditions, whilst empowering men and women with employment and other benefits.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company Ltd (SECMC, a joint venture between the Government of Sindh and Engro Powergen – a subsidiary of Engro Corporation Limited), China Power International Holding Ltd (CPIH), and Sino Sindh Resources (Pvt) Ltd (SSR) to develop 6000 MW of Thar coal based power plants in Sindh.
CPIH is a wholly-owned core enterprise of China Power Investment Corporation, one of five State Power Corporations in the People’s Republic of China. The principal business of CPIH is to develop, construct, own, operate and manage large power plants. Currently, the company is managing power plants with a generation capacity of more than 23,000 MW. SSR and SECMC are the developers of Thar Coal Mining Blocks-I and Block-II, respectively.
According to the MoU, the parties have reached an intention of jointly developing, within the next 10 years, coal-fired power projects with a total installed net capacity of 6000 MWs in Sindh, Pakistan, which will be expected to use lignite coal mined from Block 1 and Block 2 in the Thar Coalfields. CPIH will be the majority shareholder and will be responsible for implementation and execution of the power projects subject to the signing of the formal agreement and the approval of Pakistan Government.
It is to be noted that Thar coalfields contain the world’s 7th largest coal reserves – estimated at 175 Billion Tons, capable to produce 100,000 MW for the next 200 years. Thar lignite is indigenous, abundantly available, and ideally suited to produce electricity giving it distinct advantage over imported coal. Price of Thar Coal is set on a “cost plus” basis and is not linked to international energy price movements, thereby, insulating the end consumer of electricity in Pakistan from the vagaries of international coal price movements. Thar coal also has the advantage of economies of scale, which will result in a progressively lower coal price and predictable electricity price as the mining operation scales up and more power plants are added. Most importantly, utilization of Thar coal for power generation will result in huge foreign exchange savings versus any other imported energy resource.
The abundance of these reserves can be equated in energy terms to the combined oil reserves of Iran and Saudi Arabia and are capable of producing 100,000 MW of electricity for the next 200 years. Moreover, SECMC has planted around 30,000 trees and 4 Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purifier to provide drinking water to local community. Whole Pakistan is now waiting the energy of our own country, when we will get relief of load shedding and hopefully electricity for every one and economical.