ISLaMaBaD - Several energy and economy experts said during a webinar on Monday that electricity generated at the ongoing Thar projects could be an effective solution towards resolving the country’s pressing energy sector challenges. at the webinar hosted by a TV show host and journalist Zarrar Khuhro, the experts were also of the opinion that the government must resolve the ongoing issue of delayed letters of credit (LC) for businesses and industry on an urgent basis because it was impacting the ability of companies involved in the Thar projects to acquire much-needed spares and machinery from abroad and this in turn could negatively affect their expansion plans. The energy experts included energy sector specialist ShahidSattar, former Member energy of Planning Commission Syed akhtar ali and well-known economist and newspaper columnist Dr Pervez Tahir.
The webinar was organised by a private channel and was titled “What’s next for Tharprojects - Challenges & opportunities”. The host, Zarrar Khuhro, started the webinar by pointing out that how globally coal accounts for 45 percent of energy production.
In Pakistan, in the year 2021 Pakistan’s coal power generation was 14 percent of the energy mix and by the next year it had reached 30 percent. he said that the government’s objective for increasing the supply of energy had to be backed by it resolving the issue of delayed LCs. Dr Pervez Tahir said that whatever short-term goals the government wanted to achieve from the Thar projects have been accomplished already and now it needed to look at the long-term challenges, and logistics was the primary one. external factors such as economic instability and shortage of dollars have exacerbated matters further. Syed akhter ali agreed that logistics was proving to be a big hindrance in the execution of the Thar projects and that a rail link was urgent needed. Shahid Sattar said that there were several reasons for encouraging and supporting Thar projects. however, in order to make them project effective, a tariff or a non-tariff barrier needs to be implemented on the imported coal. he said that as a country there was a need of greater utilisation of our indigenous resources.
Dr Pervez Tahir added that since Pakistan’s imports were down, steps should be taken to boost demand for our local products and for that the government and the industry both have to play their part. he said the Sindh government should be the driving force behind this as far as Thar’s energy projects were concerned. Syed akhtar ali said that coal could be used not just in electricity generation but also to generate thermal energy for use in industries like cement. all the speakers were agreed on that the government needs to properly plan ahead so that the energy generated in Thar could be properly used and further economic prosperity in the country. according to Industry estimates, a delay in Thar Mine expansion plan will adversely affect Pakistan’s economic stability and energy security. Thar Mine expansion can make it the cheapest source of energy in the country and reduce the circular debt by more than Rs100 billion on an annual basis.