Pakistan Agriculture News

Utilising coal to meet energy demands may increase pollution level

ISLAMABAD –  Pakistan’s growing hunger for the coal to meet its ever growing energydemands may increase pollution levels in the country and smog could become a constant feature.

Pakistan produces 3.5 million tons coal while it imports between 4-5 million tons of coalevery year. According to official data, the coal imports from China increased considerably and reached 61,444 metric tons from 10,081MT in 2014-15. In 2015-16, the total imports of coal were 19,313 MT. During the year 2014-15 and 2015-16, non agglomerate coal was imported but in 2016-17 Bituminous coal was imported in large quantities.

Last year, 42,490 metric tons of Bituminous coal worth $446 million was imported into the country from China. Bituminous coal – widely used in steam generation in electric power plants and Industrial boilers – causes serious pollution . It is believed to be major contributor of acid rain and smog.

According to a study by an international collaboration of Tsinghua University, the Health Effects Institute, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the University of British Columbia, launched this year, the coal combustion is the single largest source of air pollution-related health impact, contributing to some 3,66,000 premature deaths in China in 2013. No wonder, China announced holding back on building new coal-fired power plants to avoid risks from overcapacity and promote a clean energy mix, mid of this year.

“A total of 150 million KW of new coal power generation capacity will see construction halted or postponed from 2016 to 2020, the 13th Five-Year Plan period”, reported state-owned Xinhua news agency quoting National Development and Reform Commission and other government agencies. It said more than 20 million KW of outdated capacity will be eliminated, and nearly 1 billion KW of capacity will be upgraded to produce fewer emissions, use less energy , and better coordinate with new energy development.

Officials claimed that due to weak implementation of environmental laws, China is dumping same outdated plants in Pakistan which even lack proper filtration facilities which absorb poisonous emissions to some extent. Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Limited, which set up the country’s first terminal for handling coal at Port Qasim Authority, claim that in coming days Pakistan’s demand for coal will be doubled.

Pakistan has been importing 5-7 million ton coal per annum, but as new plants are being set the coal demand may surge to 12-15 million tons in the near future, the company’s official said. According to Private Power and Infrastructure Board – an affiliated department of Ministry of energy – over 2,900MW electricity would be produced from imported coal-fired power projects till the end of 2019.

Source The Nation