Team Members: Engineer Arshad H. Abasi
Keeping in view the need for revisiting energy policies and highlighting the realities of Thar Coal Project, SDPI released a comprehensive report titled “Thar Coal: Myths and Realities, A revisit on NEPRA’s role in encouraging coal exploitation in Pakistan”.
The Sindh Arid Zone Development Authority (SAZDA) and the British Overseas Development Agency discovered the Thar Coal reserves in 1992. Thar Coal is generally of Lignite form, and it is credited as of a low-ranking coal type, which lies between coal and peat. The energy content of the lignite coal is 5,774 Btu/lb, moisture content is 46.77 per cent, ash content is 6.24per cent and sulphur content is 1.16 per cent. Due to its low energy density, Thar lignite is economically least beneficial for nation. The method involves converting coal into a combustible gas, which can be used for industrial heating, power generation or the manufacture of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or diesel fuel. Coal used to produce gas would be a better alternative to it being used directly for electricity generation. Given the severity of the current gas crisis, coal could be better for this purpose.
The findings of the report suggest that NEPRA needs to benchmark its performance against the Indian Act of Electricity, which was promulgated in 2003. Provisions in the Indian Electricity Act 2003, specifically Section 86(1) (e), stress on the promotion of environmentally friendly benign policies, which promote cogeneration and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy. The solution of energy crisis in Pakistan lies in cheap and green hydropower. Therefore, in order to ease Pakistan’s energy crisis, the immediate and long-term solution entails starting multi-purpose hydropower projects. These would help overcome the challenge of sustaining a positive economic growth, which is direly needed at the moment but also enable the water and energy sectors for further development.
The report initiated a debate on technical and financial viability of this project in media. The report, highlighting the facts and environmental costs associated with this project compelled the stakeholders to revisit the energy policy. The findings of the reports were endorsed in the technical review of this project done by Planning Commission of Pakistan upon the release of this report. The report was not only opted by USAID, NUST and Engineering University Peshawar but also endorsed by the Planning Commission of Pakistan.