The government has decided to set up small-scale coal power plants to generate electricity in the province, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday. These projects will be set up near industrial centres, he said, the process of identifying potential sites has been completed and work on the projects will commence soon.
The chief minister was presiding over a meeting to discuss various proposals to set up small coal power plants in the province.
Sharif said solving the energy crisis was crucial to keeping the industrial sector alive and overcoming the problems of unemployment and poverty. He said ridding the people of load-shedding and bringing the country out of darkness was the government’s mission. The chief minister said the government was going to develop several energy projects on a fast-track basis and was taking all possible steps to curb the energy crisis.
The chief minister said that the government was planning to build small coal power plants near industrial load centres in seven big cities: Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Multan and Lahore. Sharif said that the planned power plants would be small 55x2 megawatt power plants running on coal.
The chief minister said the process of identifying sites for four small 55x2 megawatt coal power plants in Lahore had been completed. They would be set up in Sundar Industrial Estate and M-3 Industrial Estate in Faisalabad. This would make it possible to generate around 1,100 megawatt in the next 20 months. He directed relevant institutions to implement the projects on fast-track and ensure coordination to avoid unnecessary delays.
Sharif said coal yards will also be constructed to store the coal used for these projects. He told relevant officials to take immediate steps in this regard.
Additional Energy Chief Secretary Jehanzeb Khan gave a detailed briefing on small coal power plants.
The chief secretary, senior Board of Revenue member and Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park chairman attended the meeting.
Chinese delegation visits
A delegation of Chinese investors associated with the energy sector met Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday. They discussed matters pertaining to setting up small-scale coal power projects and developing the mining sector. The Chinese investors expressed interest in developing the mining sector and setting up coal power plants in the Salt Range.
Sharif told the delegation that the government was looking into all practicable projects to resolve the energy crisis. He said a megaproject to generate power through coal was being implemented in the Punjab. The chief minister said that special incentives and facilities would be provided to local and foreign investors for investment in the energy sector. He urged Chinese investors to come forward and develop coal mining using modern technology. He said they were also welcome to set up coal power plants in mining areas. The government will provide them all possible facilities, he assured them.
Sharif said there were vast reserves of coal in the Salt Range and the government was working towards utilising the reserves in a better manner. “This is why, we want to develop mining on modern lines...Chinese investors should come forward to develop a mining zone to ensure uninterrupted supply of coal to power plants.”
Head of the Chinese delegation, Li Jingkai, said, “We want to invest in coal power plants in the Punjab...we are also willing to develop coal mining in a joint project with the Punjab government.” He said that they were planning to set up two 150 megawatt power plants in coal producing areas in the Punjab.
Provincial Minister for Minerals Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan, the Planning and Development Board chairman, the additional energy chief secretary and minerals and mines secretary attended the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.