The much-talked-about Thar coal has finally started producing electricity. It’s a good news indeed for a country that has been struggling, for quite a while, to meet the electricity demand of its domestic and industrial consumers, causing a host of harms and hitches in social and economic terms. Lack of proper power supply to homes means whole of households will not be able to study, work and rest properly, and kept disturbed and underperformed as a result. There is a huge economic cost of lack of power supply to factories and industries, coming in the form of lost production, eluding export orders, declining employment, etc.
The good news of the Thar coal power plant — having two units of 330 megawatts each — becoming operational has come coinciding with the looming summer season, which makes it even more welcome. While the first unit has started pumping power, produced by indigenous coal, into the national grid from Monday, the second one will be functional next month. So in about a month’s time, the country’s power generation will rise by 660 megawatts. Work on the construction of the country’s first power plant, an early harvest of CPEC, had commenced in April 2016.
The power plant — set up by Engro Powergen Thar Limited in Thar Block II of Sindh — is understood to save the country a huge amount of valuable foreign exchange as coal from Thar is a cheaper, indigenous and abundant resource. However, the use of coal for power generation will have an obvious toll on the country’s environment — already an area of serious concern. Herein too, China shows you the way out. The country — which generates 65% of its total electricity through coal — has upgraded its coal-fired power plants to make a significant cut in carbon dioxide emissions.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2019.