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Friday, May 5, 2017

One Third Of Pakistan Has No Electricity But Massive Coal Reserves So It Is Building Coal Fired Electric Plants And Greenies Go Nuts

Pakistan ramps up coal 

power with Chinese-backed

 plants

by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio | @saleemzeal | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 3 May 2017 00:15 GMT
Image Caption and Rights Information
"Pakistan must tap these unutilised vast underground reserves of 175 billion tonnes of coal, adequate to meet the country's energy needs for several decades," minister says
By Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio
ISLAMABAD, May 3 (Thomson Reuters
 Foundation) - With much of the world pouring
 investments into renewable and clean energy,
Pakistan is drawing criticism for welcoming
Chinese investment in coal-fired power
plants as part of a plan to boost urgently
 needed generating capacity.
Officials at the Water and Power Ministry
have said Chinese companies and their
 partners are expected to spend around
 $15 billion over the next 15 years to
 build close to a dozen coal power plants
 of varying sizes around the country.
Mohammed Younus Dagha, the former
 federal secretary for water and power,
who became commerce secretary at the
 end of March, emphasised that the coal
plants are part of a larger plan.
That is the $54 billion China Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC), which
 includes spending of about $33 billion
on a total of 19 energy projects, including
 coal-fired and renewable power plants,
 transmission lines, and other infrastructure.
"Hefty investment under the CPEC project
 has held out hopes of significantly spiking
 domestic power generation (by) around
 6,000 megawatts by the end of 2018,"
Dagha said.
Combined, the projects will eventually
 generate 16,000 megawatts (MW) of
electricity, which the government says is
urgently needed.
About three-quarters of the newly generated
 power will come from coal-powered plants,
and the government insists that these will
be fitted with the latest technology to
 reduce pollution and climate-changing
 emissions.
But environmentalists and energy experts
 have lambasted the plans for coal-fired plants
as a waste of money that will badly damage
 the environment and tarnish Pakistan's
 image as one of the lowest-carbon emitters.
"Such plants would only accelerate the
rising trajectory of the country's carbon
emissions, (accelerating) environmental
degradation that costs billions of rupees
to the national exchequer annually," said
 Syed Jawad Hussain Shahzad, an energy
 expert at the Comsats Institute of Information
Technology in Islamabad.
ENERGY SHORTFALLS
Pakistan has long needed more power than
 it can produce, with the energy deficit
currently around 4,000 MW. According
to the International Energy Agency (IEA),
 average energy demand in the country is
 around 19,000 MW, against generation
of around 15,000 MW.
Demand soars beyond 20,000 MW during
peak summer months of May to July, when
 air conditioning systems place an extra
burden on the national power grid, often
causing power cuts.
The IEA forecasts that total electricity
 demand will rise to more than 49,000 MW
by 2025 as the country's population increases.
Only 67 percent of Pakistan's approximately
 190 million people have access to electricity,
according to the World Bank.
To improve access and keep pace with
economic growth, the country needs to
invest between 3.7 percent and 5.5 percent
 of its GDP each year in increasing electrical
production, the bank said in a report on
South Asian infrastructure published in
 2013. Part of the motivation for building
coal-powered plants lies in the availability
of the fuel within Pakistan.
The federal minister for planning, development
 and reform, Ahsan Iqbal, said that the
sprawling desert region of Tharparkar in
southern Pakistan, home to some of the
 world's largest coal reserves, cannot be
left unexploited.
"Pakistan must tap these unutilised vast
 underground reserves of 175 billion tonnes
of coal, adequate to meet the country's
energy needs for several decades, for
powering the country's economic wheel,
creating new jobs, and fighting spiking
 unemployment and poverty," Iqbal said.
Pakistan currently ranks 135th in the list
of global emitters of carbon on a per capita
 basis, accounting for less than 1 percent
of total global carbon emissions, according
to World Bank data.
According to the report submitted by
Pakistan to the U.N. Framework Convention
 on Climate Change last year, the country's
 emissions in 2015 stood at 405 metric tonnes
of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2 eq.).
However, emissions are increasing at a rate
of 3.9 percent (16 MTCO2 eq.) annually.
Iqbal touts the green credentials of the
 planned coal power plants, which will
use the latest "supercritical" emission-reducing
 technology that is used in China itself and
elsewhere.
"The latest coal power plants (will) be as
clean as gas-based power generation," Iqbal
 insisted. "(They) require less coal per
megawatt-hour, leading to lower emissions,
including carbon dioxide and mercury,
higher efficiency and lower fuel costs
per megawatt."
RISKS OF WORSENING CLIMATE
CHANGE
Nevertheless, independent renewable
 energy experts say the government's
 love affair with coal power plants is
a huge worry.
"No sane person would want electricity from
 dirty energy sources, even though supercritical
 technology is used," said Malik Amin
Aslam, a former state minister for the
 environment who serves as global
vice-president of the International
 Union for Conservation of Nature.
"These plants, not being completely
free of carbon emissions, will still harm
the public health and the country's environment," he said.
Pakistan is considered one of the countries
most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,
 from worsening floods and scalding summer
temperatures to erratic rainfall that can kill
 crops.
China's ambassador to Pakistan, Sun
Weidong, stressed that coal power is
only part of the projects China is
 supporting through its investment in CPEC.
"We are equally helping Pakistan to
bring more and more renewable energy
 sources into its energy mix by tapping
its massive wind and solar energy
potential," Sun said.
Planned renewable energy projects
under CPEC include a solar park, four
wind farms and three hydro plants that
together would generate around 3,900 MW,
at a cost of about $7.5 billion
According to the Pakistan Alternative
Energy Development Board, Pakistan has
the potential to generate annually
2.9 million MW of clean energy from
solar, 340,000 MW from wind and
100,000 MW from hydropower.
"We really fail to fathom the government's
inclination towards environmentally
damaging coal power plants while the
 country can generate millions of
megawatts of solar, wind and hydro
 electricity," said Mir Ahmad Shah,
 executive secretary of the Pakistan
 Renewable and Alternative Energy
Association.
"Even countries like Saudi Arabia –
rich in oil resources – are gradually
switching over to clean energy sources,"
Shah said.
(Reporting by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra
 Tunio; editing by James Baer and Laurie
 Goering :; Please credit the Thomson
 Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm
 of Thomson Reuters, that covers
 humanitarian news, climate change,
 resilience, women's rights, trafficking
 and property rights.
Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)