ISLAMABAD-Pakistan is currently generating 5,280MW electricity from coal, with the Thar coal contributing 1,320MW and imported coal 3,960MW to the overall power generation, reported WealthPK.

In the past, Pakistan imported coal from South Africa and Indonesia. However, due to a massive increase in coal prices, many industries, especially cement, are now importing coal from Afghanistan, saving significant transportation costs. The major question is why Pakistan is using imported coal for generating electricity instead of the readily available local coal. According to Shamsuddin Shaikh, former CEO of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, the major problem with the local coal was that Pakistan’s coal power plants were designed according to the imported coal. As a result, Pakistan can’t convert the entire plant to local coal, but it can do so partially. However, financial issues keep it from doing so. The second reason is that coal is being phased out of the world’s energy mix because of its adverse environmental effects.

Pakistan has made some progress in overcoming the power crisis. The current capacity to produce electricity is around 41,557MW, which is much higher than the demand of approximately 29,000MW during the peak demand periods. In the current global economic crisis, Pakistan is facing the challenge of a massive rise in the price of fuel in the international market. With the help of China, Pakistan installed imported coal-based power plants as part of its CPEC investment at the beginning of the project, but now it is installing local coal-based power plants as part of the project.

Around 37 percent of the world’s electricity is generated from coal, according to the World Coal Association. According to the International Energy Agency, coal will contribute 22 percent of the world’s energy supply by 2040. The best course for Pakistan is to use the local coal. In terms of carbon emissions, coal is one of the largest contributors. Pakistan, on the other hand, is one of the major countries in the world that are environmentally vulnerable.

At the moment, Pakistan is braving widespread devastation wrought by the recent unprecedented floods triggered by the monsoon rains. The economy is facing billions of dollars of losses while millions of people are homeless. There is a need for the government to stabilize the economy by utilizing the local coal resources in a sustainable manner. Adopting new techniques will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

According to the China Economic Net, a Chinese firm is using underground coal power plant technology to produce electricity. This technology can not only provide cheaper electricity but also help reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity generated.