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Coal use for electricity can cut oil import bill

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday asked the government to reverse gas decision taken by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf which resulted in depletion of precious gas reserves.

Before 2002 there was only one 750MW power generation unit of KESC at Port Qasim which was using natural gas. Pervez Musharraf allowed conversion of power plants on natural gas.

This decision saved some foreign exchange but eventually deprived masses and industry of economical fuel, and contributed to rapid environmental degradation, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the move earned Pakistan honour of being first country in the world to use its limited reserves of non-renewable clean fuel for power generation. “The government needs to undo the decision of Musharraf to continue economic activity,” he demanded.

“Reduction in oil import bill can be made possible by using coal for power generation which is being practiced in many industrialised nations. The countries that avoid using coal use lowest possible quality of furnace oil,” he informed.

Dr Murtaza Mughal said that most of the power plants in Pakistan are designed to consume furnace oil; revisiting pre 2002 policy of discouraging gas-fired power projects will pay dividends.

“China is in process of making 77 dams to generate power while our policy makers continue to stress on costliest means to power generation,” he said.

Pakistan is currently producing 12.5MW from coal through a plant in Quetta while Lakhra plant has been closed since long, on the other hand US has 1932 coal power plants, China has 66, India 126, UK 18, and Russia has 48 coal powered plants.

Bangladesh is producing 20 times more power than Pakistan using coal while Zimbabwe is generating 74 times more power.

Dr Mughal said that a study on the impact of gas loadshedding on environment and GDP must be initiated.

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