Sindh is working on a coal gasification project to produce gas, diesel etc to meet the domestic needs, which have been pressing the country hard due to their rising global prices, an official said on Thursday.
'We are working on the feasibility study of the project to extract the coal from Block-6 for its gasification,' said Abu Bakar Ahmed Madani, Secretary Energy Sindh during a roundtable dialogue on renewable energy sources.
He said that Sind could use as much coal as it wanted as coal was a provincial subject and no federal law barred it from its gasification.
'In the longer run, renewable energy is the most feasible option for meeting the energy needs; however, the present extraordinary situation for energy requirements warrants the maximum utilisation of the Thar coal, which is available in huge quantities.'
Madani said out of the total 186 billion tonnes of coal reserves of Pakistan, 175 billion tonnes were in Thar, Sindh, which were around 50 billion tonnes more than the combined oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran and sixty-eight times higher than Pakistan's total gas reserves.
When asked about the use of the Thar coal instead of imported coal, whose prices had gone up to highest level, Secretary Energy said Thar coal could replace the imported coal by first using it in the Port Qasim power plant and Sahiwal power plant and for that super critical boilers need to be installed in these plants and its utilisation could be enhanced further with the passage of time.
'Because of high cost of imported coal and requirements of Pakistan for power production, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered to utilise the Thar coal for the power production, apart from the power being produced in power plant in Thar,' Madani disclosed and added that efforts were afoot to complete the task.
He revealed that under the directives of PM, a 105km long railway track would be developed between Islamkot to Chhor for transportation of Thar coal and was expected to be completed in one year.
Secretary said that 12 Thar coal blocks had been developed and five allocated.
About renewable energy projects, he said out of the 400MW wind power projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), 300MW power projects had been operational and 100MW wind power projects were being developed.
'The renewable projects have small power production capacity and Pakistan needs projects with high power production capacity, when it is facing a power shortfall of more than 5000MW and Thar coal can bridge this gap at this critical moment,' Madani said.