By: Farzana Yasmin
Pakistan’s energy sector transition from fossil fuel especially from coal fired power plants to clean energy/ renewable energy sources is indispensable for emissions reductions.Besides, building new coal power plants would be completely inconsistent with any development in line with meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term1.5°C temperature goal.
Pakistan’s Energy sector dependence on fossil fuel for electricity generation andplans to massively expand its coalcapacitythrough exploiting its indigenouscoalresources is a question mark as these Coal-fired power plants are a key source of global greenhouse gas emissions.While the impacts of Climate change in the form of smog, extreme temperature, sea level rise, and floods etc. are getting prominence and frequency not only globally but also in Pakistan.
Currently, more than 60 per cent of the utility electricity generated from fossil fuel including gas, coal and furnace oilas compared to the renewable energy sources that is just 5.7 %, according to the Pakistan Energy Profile 2018, while Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy is 145 million MT (2013 est), CO2 emissions from operating coal power plants in all regions in the world largely surpass emissions budget in line with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit. Building new coal power plants would be completely inconsistent with any development in line with meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal.
Coal has been considered the cheapest source of electricity generation because it does not factor in the costs of environmental and health impacts. Around 40 percent of the world’s electricity generation comesfrom coal, and many countries aren’t willing to commit to a total phase-out just yet. A number of developing countries in Asia — including India, Vietnam and Bangladesh — are still looking to build new coal plants to bring electricity to those who don’t have it.A recent report from the United Nations Environment Program warned that keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, would require either shutting down nearly every coal plant in the world before 2050 or outfitting the plants with technology to capture emissions and bury them.
EU and OECD countries must stop burning coal for electricity by 2030, While China has already announced that it will stop any further construction of new coal power plants in its 29 out 32 provinces. Even 104 planned and under-construction coal power projects – with a total capacity of 120GW – have been suspended according to The National Energy Administrationin order to meet commitments made in Paris in the most cost effective manner.
Most emissions from coal are in the electricity sector and Pakistan’s power sector is highly dependent on imported coal to meet the current and future energy needs.Recognizing the growing energy needs of Pakistan, and to overcome the existing energy deficit/crisis, China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC has allocated a major proportion of its funds to energy generation and transmission.And majority of the power generation will come from coal as compared to the renewable energy sources.
It is used in Pakistan’s private industrial units to meet its power needs. The Industries having coal-fired captive power plants CPPs mostly belong to cement, steel melters, furnaces and re-rolling mills, textiles and chemical industry.Around 500 megawatts of coal-based captive power plants (CPPs ) are operating in the country with their average production cost per unit at around Rs6.Rise in coal prices in the world market and devaluation of the rupee will not only make this source costly but also the cost has gone high thereby challenging the viability of the industry. Now coal prices have increased up to 14% from $103 per tonne from $90 per tonne.
It is ridiculous that an international climate change specialist at the Asian Development Bank, attributed the smog primarily to toxic car emissions and atmospheric pollutantscoming from coal-based industries in neighbouring Indian Punjab while the Asian Development Bankis itself helping fund a 600MW super critical coal-fired power plant in Jamshoro, Sindh. The agreement for the $900 million project was signed in March last year in 2017.