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Thar Coal Power Plant II: Vision of Mohtarmma Benazir Bhutto Towards energy

BY NOAMAN SHAIKH,

Pakistan’s Thar Desert contains one of the largest untapped coal deposits in the world.

The size of lignite coal reserves in the Thar Desert was estimated at 175 billion tons in 1992 and is spread across 9,100 sq k.

The Thar Coal Power Project started electricity production in the month of March 2019 with 330MW of power provided to the national grid and second 330 MW connected on 10th April 2019.

The Thar coal Power Plant II has been inaugurated  by Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman PPP and Syed Murad Ali Shah Chief Minister Sindh today.

On 25th Janauary 1995 Shaheed Mohtarmma Benazir Bhutto had laid down the stone ceremony to start the Thar coal plant on same place where today her son Mr. Bilawal  Bhutto zardari inaugurated the 330 MW production of electricity. That was the vision of Mohtarmma Benazir Bhutto.

This Project has been now added under the CPEC and will produce 330MW electricity from Block II and 330 MW from Block I since March 2019, the total capacity 660 MW will be connected to National grid.

This power plant project has 54.7 percent share of Sindh Government and SECMC having six partners of 45.3 percent.

According to this project there will be construction of Mai Bakhtawer Airport, Roads, Bridges and 1228 homes will be constructed. All the families of 1228 will be paid one lac rupees per year till the existence of Project

The Thar coalfield is located in Thar Desert, Tharparkar District of Sindh province. The deposits were discovered in 1991 by Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) and the United States Agency for International Development.

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, 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.

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. The power projects will be developed in five (5) phases of 1200 MWs each with a configuration of 2 x 600MW. Coal mining will be independently developed by SSR and SECMC for Block 1 and Block 2, respectively, who will supply coal based on the coal demand created by the power projects developed by CPIH.

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. Most importantly, utilization of Thar coal for power generation will result in huge foreign exchange savings versus any other imported energy resource.

Pakistan generates 37 percent of its electricity using oil which is the most expensive source of power generation, while there is negligible reliance on its available coal reserves.

Thar, with 175 billion tons of coal, is home to the 7th largest coal reserves in the world and is foreseeable as the only viable and sustainable solution to the country’s energy shortfall.

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.  The 660 MW project has been completed and this power plant II will be also be connected in National grid station will improve our requirement in the country.

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