May 302015

LAHORE: In a bid to tackle the energy crisis and bring down electricity tariff, the government is working on a policy that calls for greater focus on domestic resources like coal and solar energy to achieve a better energy mix, said Provincial Minister of Mines and Minerals Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan.

Speaking at a conference on “Coal and alternative energy resources” at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he said the government was spending adequate resources on the promotion of alternative energy sources.

“A 100MW solar power project has already started running in Punjab, while a number of coal-fired power projects including the 300MW plant in Pind Dadan and 1,320MW project in Sahiwal, are in the pipeline, which will help overcome the energy challenges,” he said.

He pointed out that the Punjab government was restructuring the mining sector and asked the private sector to come forward and pour money into the industry.

“To equip the mineral sector with state-of-the-art technology is one of the top priorities of the provincial government,” he added. “The technology will help the country to fully utilise its coal reserves that also have sulphur and ash content.”

Additionally, he said, energy conservation was also the need of the hour and the business community should supplement government’s efforts in this regard. LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz said some three decades ago, Pakistan used to generate electricity from hydel and non-hydel resources with a proportion of 70:30. Now the situation had totally reversed and electricity had become costlier, wiping out Pakistan’s competitive edge in the international market, he said.

“Almost 40% of electricity is generated through coal all over the world,” said Mumtaz. “In Pakistan, less than 1% electricity is generated from coal.”

He said countries like South Africa, Australia, China, Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic generated about 80,000MW through underground coal gasification.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2015.

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