Using local coal – Pakistan has massive coal reserves

Using local coal – Pakistan has massive coal reserves | Tribune Editorials
There has been a renewed push to start using local coal for power generation. Experts believe that the government’s decision to start using local coal at three power plants could save $175 per tonne, or about $2.5 billion a year, while also helping improve the forex situation by reducing the import bill. But amid the cost of savings and quality of life benefits that more electricity would bring, there are also concerns.
The longest-running concerns about coal have to do with pollution, not just in terms of climate change, but air quality in surrounding areas. Those concerns may well increase because lignite — the type of coal found in Thar — has a smaller energetic value than hard coal, meaning that more must be burned to produce the same amount of power. Lignite is also more polluting as it produces more sulphur and carbon monoxide. The fact that more lignite coal would be burning means air pollution would significantly increase, even with mitigation equipment installed at plants. Using local coal – Pakistan has massive coal reserves
On a more practical level, significant technical changes will be required to make existing power plants capable of handling local coal, meaning that plants will need to be shut down for varying periods of time to install the upgrades. Conversely, imported coal could be ‘watered down’ with the addition of local coal, but that would not have the same long-term cost benefits.
Pakistan has massive coal reserves, but it is almost all lignite, meaning that fully utilising it would have severe pollution implications. However, proper planning could see some of the savings reallocated to setting up clean energy plants. It might not be the best solution for environmentalists, but it is likely the most practical one. If European countries have a problem with it, they could lead by example and shut down their plants first, or alternatively, finance our transition to renewables. After all, Europe still consumes about half of the world’s lignite production, and even the countries having shifted away from coal have actually begun increasing coal consumption to reduce their reliance on Russian natural gas. Using local coal – Pakistan has massive coal reserves
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2022.

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