Energetic: Thar coal plant begins power generation

Published: May 30, 2015
The government had earlier allocated Rs10 billon for this project to generate 100MW under the gasification pilot project, but due to financial constraints, there has been no tangible progress in the past five years. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The government had earlier allocated Rs10 billon for this project to generate 100MW under the gasification pilot project, but due to financial constraints, there has been no tangible progress in the past five years. PHOTO: EXPRESS


With the ongoing battle against energy crisis, the Sindh government finally generated one megawatt from the Thar coal power plant through an underground coal gasification process on Thursday.

According to officials, power generation will be enhanced to 10MW by the end of this year and 100MW by 2016.

“We have successfully produced 1MW and 4MW is present in our system. Initially, the electricity will be supplied to our projects and a nearby village,” said renowned scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who heads the project.

Ten wells have been dug up for Thar coal-fired power plant near Islamkot, each with a distance of 50 metres. After the gasification process, pure gas is connected to coal gas generators imported from China from where the electricity is produced, according to officials.

“In these wells, steel pipes are drilled down to 600 feet to reach the coal bed and pump out underground water. We later fire the coal inside with compressed air to produce the gas mixed with other particles,” said Engineer Abdul Manan Larik, who supervises work on block five of the coal field in Tharparkar.

“We have installed a gas purification plant to get rid of unnecessary particles including carbon and sulphur in order to produce pure gas that is linked with generators,” Larik said.

He said the government had earlier allocated Rs10 billion for this project to generate 100MW under the gasification pilot project, but due to financial constraints, there has been no tangible progress in the past five years.

“We have so far received Rs3 billion. We would have finished our task had funds been provided on time,” he said, adding there was no transmission line in the area and the government was going to earmark funds for it.

Mubarakmand was of the view that there was around 175 billion tons of coal reserves that have the potential to generate 5,000MW for at least 800 years.

“The same quality of coal is found in Austria where power is being generated through under-ground gasification. Pakistan is blessed with many natural resources, but there is a need for proper planning and implementation,” he said.

On the other hand, the provincial government in collaboration with Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has started open-pit mining on block two in the same area. They have announced the setting up of two power plants with generation capacity of 330MW and 660MW by 2018.

Officials in the energy department said the entire exercise required an estimated $2 billion.

“Around $1 billion will be spent on the development of the coal-fired power plant and $0.9 billion on mining,” a senior official said.

While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari conducted the ground-breaking of the power plant some time ago, the federal government has yet to issue the schedule to lay the transmission line to link the Thar coal power plant with the national grid.

“The Sindh chief minister sent a second reminder to the federal government and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company, asking for a schedule for the transmission line as 100MW is likely to be produced from the Thar plant by next year, but all in vain,” said a spokesperson for the Chief Minister House.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Naeem Khan
    May 30, 2015 - 6:23AM

    It is more important to have Metro Buses running than constructing electrical transmission lines to Thar coal power plant which could then be connected to national grid. Mush failed us in energy sector and now the Sharifs are ignoring the most economic problem the country is facing. I suppose there is no shortage of incompetency in the current government. Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 30, 2015 - 6:33AM

    ……..at what cost ?Recommend

  • Karachiite
    May 30, 2015 - 9:17AM

    Perhaps the greatest achievement of Pakistan Parliamentarians Party (PPP) Since 1978.
    A single Megawatt of energy….Recommend

  • Vigilant Citizen
    May 30, 2015 - 9:53AM

    Meager yet crucial beginnings. Instead of criticizing, I think the government should be lauded for their initiative to kick start such nascent projects.

    Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Recommend

  • May 30, 2015 - 9:54AM

    Yea Doctor Sahib! Viva and Bravo! Congratulations on the successful construction, gasification and production of electricity from Thar coal. At long last this plant has seen fruition and will come on line shortly in 2016 reducing energy shortages.
    Now let’s have some peace in the province and clamp down in earnest on lawlessness, energy shortages, inflation in Ramazan, and corruption. The future of our country is at stake and trouble has started in Saudia, which cannot be ignored. SalamsRecommend

  • Haider
    May 30, 2015 - 9:54AM

    KPK has capacity to make 30,000 MW from hydel power.Cheapest source but PM wont go there as there is govt of PTI going on.KPK will be benefitedRecommend

  • syed baqar ahsan
    May 30, 2015 - 10:02AM

    NTDC is a bunch of fools and its was created to cause delays and confusions.Number of power projected inaugurated but connecting transmission was not there.I don’t know what stuff the sectratery power is made.Recommend

  • Hamaad
    May 30, 2015 - 10:16AM

    Naeem Khan sb kindly have a check up for ur Sharifophobia & Metrophobia. Govn has already commenced more than 10,000 MW projects and it would take time to finish these projects. Please concentrate on ur 350 Dams in KPRecommend

  • Virkaul
    May 30, 2015 - 10:31AM

    UCG is a relatively new technology to combust coal underground without the risk of mining it. China has about 30 projects in various stages of implementation. India too planned to produce power from 350 billion tons of coal n 2007 but projects did not take off for technical and commercial reasons.
    Sasol, Linc Energy and Eskom are some of the companies who own pilot facilities in Souh Africa and Australia. Full scale commercial production is still long way. This technology, however mitigates the risk of mining and reduces pollution, both gaseous and particulate matter.

    Lignite, available in Thar is coal of low grade and its feasibility for UCG will need to be studied.Recommend

  • Whatagovt
    May 30, 2015 - 12:00PM

    This will give Nawaz and his minions material to boast about solution of energy crisis. This actually is another NANDIPUR. What is the cost of putting this up? I see a row of solar plates in the photo! Who are they fooling.Recommend

  • Troll Hunter
    May 30, 2015 - 12:15PM

    Even the corrupt most parliamentarians get more money in development funds for their constituencies that eventually ends up in bank accounts. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 17, 2015 - 6:15PM

    Refer Sind governments protest against Federal Government banning windmills and Solar Energy in Sind which have no environmental impact and don’t need billions investment, can Government invest million and produce thousands megawatts electricity.Recommend

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