Utilisation of Thar coal is crucial for meeting Pakistan's energy needs indigenously especially at a time of rising international fuels prices, leading experts said at a webinar organised on Monday.
They said that Pakistan's ample reserves were finally being explored and utilised and that this would help reduce the country's reliance on expensive imported energy and steer it towards a cheaper abundant alternative.
Hosted by journalist and TV show host Zarrar Khuhro and organised by Prime News, the webinar titled 'Thar Projects: The Solution to Pakistan's Energy Needs' included former Chief Economist of the Planning Commission and newspaper columnist Dr Pervez Tahir, former Member Energy of the Planning Commission Shahid Sattar and researcher and commentator Ali Khizar.
Dr Pervez Tahir said that Pakistan's energy mix is majority thermal and this is mostly dirty fuel. He said that because of climate issues, talking about coal is difficult now. But Pakistan's crisis is so big that it can't possibly survive without coal. He said he had been to Thar, and it has now changed drastically and there had been massive development. 'When I went to Block II, I saw and believed this is the way to go forward. If we have so much of reserves, why not utilise it,' he said.
Dr Tahir said that the development of Thar coal projects would be beneficial for the country, province and for the local population of the area. He said that in 1989 a national energy conservation centre was made and that developed an energy efficiency policy but it was never implemented. He said that well: planned initiatives needed consistent implementation for them to be successful. Former Planning Commission Member Energy, Shahid Sattar, said that the way energy was priced had not encouraged its efficient use. He said that all around the world, a distributed generation system was the way forward and grids are a way of the past and this needs to be implemented in Pakistan as well. He also talked about circular debt in detail and how it was not a part of the tariff issued by NEPRA. He said this had caused a wide gap between consumption and price of the energy goods.
Ali Khizar talked about Pakistan's over: reliance on imported energy and its price was continuously rising and has gone as high as 32 billion dollars for 2022. He said that Thar coal helps generate around 2,000: MW and this figure could be even higher. He said that in winters, the power generation is dependent on hydel but if there is lack of rain then this falls and hence using coal as an alternative is a good idea.