Mining our way to zero load Shedding
Profit explains: Why is Pakistan moving towards coal as its main energy source while the rest of the world moves away?
Coal, gas, and oil are among the top fossil fuels used globally for generating electricity and meeting energy demands. Coal fired plants use different kinds of machinery that convert heat energy produced from combustion into mechanical energy.
Coal, which is readily available in most of the developing and developed world, has been used as a major source of fuel even in ancient human civilizations. Its use was also found in historic steam engines at the dawn of the industrial revolution. However, environmental considerations have challenged the use of coal as a fuel in the 21st century. But solutions exist whereby coal can be used in a way that it causes less environmental harm. Modern technology is there to help.
There is a trend in developed countries to switch to renewable energy sources for their power requirements. Despite this, there are over 50 countries that have more than 85% dependence on non-renewable energy resources at present. These include the oil rich Arab countries, China, Australia, South Africa, some US states and European countries. Additionally, if we look by sector, 79% of the global industrial energy requirement is fulfilled by coal powered electricity production.
Developing economies use coal as an energy source because it’s the cheapest source of fuel for electricity generation. Most developing countries rely on coal because it is locally sourced, therefore brings down the power tariff. India has increased its electricity generation from coal threefold since the 1990’s justifying it as the fuel of choice for the now developed countries during their developing stage. Even now, developed countries like Denmark, have thermal power plants as backup for electricity generation, if renewable fails.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said adopting coal technology to meet energy shortage at a time when the world is moving away from it is certainly not a good idea. But, there are number of factors leading to this decision. Pakistan was and still remains an energy thirsty country. The current government came to power partially on the promise that it would resolve the energy woes of the country. Our major reliance for electricity had been on gas, hydel, and furnace oil. The coal, nuclear and renewables contribute a minor percentage in our energy mix. Both gas (despite import of LNG) and hydel (due to climate change, and contested use of water) are no more predictable sources of electricity generation in the country.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.