COAL: POTENTIAL SOURCE OF ELECTRICITY

DR.S.M.ALAM, M.A.KHAN & TOQUEER AHMED
Feb 18 - 24, 2008

In the electricity generation coal can make a substantial contribution. The total coal reserves of Pakistan as reported by Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) are estimated to be around 185 billion tons and of these nearly 175 billion tons are located in the Thar desert as discovered in 1992 and this is one of the biggest good quality lignite deposits in the world. Pakistan is the eighth coal producing country in the world. In terms of quality the coal found in Pakistan falls in a range between bituminous and lignite. All that coal has contributed so far is a mere 190 MW in the total generation capacity of the country. The only purpose coal is being used for is to fire the brick kilns nearly 80% of the total annual production (three million tons) is consumed by kilns. Coal is also used in cement industry. Currently, the share of coal in the overall energy mix is less than 5 per cent. Owing to discovery of large coal field having more than 184 billion tons resource potential at Thar in Sindh. The Government has decided to enhance the share of coal in the overall energy mix from 5 per cent to 20 per cent by the end of decade.

The coal deposits are found in all the four provinces of the country including Azad Kashmir. The province-wise quantity of coal deposits found are as follows (in million tons)

Sindh: The coal mines in Sindh are found in the areas of, Thar coal (175,506), Sonda-Thatta ( 3,700), Indus East (1,777), Jherruck ( 1,823), Lakhra (1,328), Ongar (312), Meting-Jhimpir (161) and Badin (16) , making a total of 184,655 million tons. The quality of coal is mostly of lignite-B to sub-bituminous A-C. They are of good quality. The province of Sindh covers a vast area of coal field and Sindh is the main supplier of coal in the country.

Punjab: The Punjab coal comprises the coalfields of eastern, central and western Salt Range (213); Makerwal/Gullakhel; ( 22) making a total of 236 million tons. The rank of the coal is sub-bituminous A to high volatile bituminous.

Balochistan: The coal seams in Balochistan are found in Ghazig formation of Eocene age. The quality of the coal is sub-bituminous-A to high volatile B bituminous. There are six known coalfields mostly lying around Quetta, however the following are significant: Khost-Shrig-Harnai (76), Sor Range-Degari (50), Duki (50), Mach-Abegum (23), Pir Ismail Ziarat (12) and Barkhan- Chamalang (6), making a total of 217 million tons.

NWFP: Hangu/Orakzai (82) and Cherat/Gullakhel (9) are making a total of 90 million tons.

Azad Kashmir: Kotli (9) is making a total of 9 million tons. The overall total deposits of coal in the country stands at 185,173 million tons.

The production of coal in the country was 3,311,586 tons in the year 2002-03 and the consumption in the same year was 3,768,755 tons .Presently, looking at the deposits of coal in the country, it has become necessary to dig out the coal mines in order to utilize it in the different fields in the country. It is because that coal deposits are more than enough in the country. The digging out of the coal and its utilization will definitely improve the energy problem shortage in the country.

Coal plays an important role as a primary source for power generation. Coal is classified into four major groups: i) lignite: The largest portion of world's coal reserves is made up of lignite, a soft brownish black coal that forms the lowest level of coal family. ii) Sub-bituminous: It is a dull black coal and gives up a little more energy (heat) than lignite when it burns. iii) Bituminous: It is called soft coal and has powerful burning capacity and iv) Anthracite: It is the hardest coal and gives up a great amount of heat when it burns. One of the valuable content of coal is carbon content which supports most of it heating value. Other contents of coal are moisture, ash and sulphur. Anthracite is top ranked coal with highest content and ranges between 86-98 percent. Bituminous and sub-bituminous are inferior to anthracite. The bituminous variety is used to generate electricity and to make coke for the steel industry. The coal deposits are found in all the four provinces of the country including Azad Kashmir. The region-wise quantity of coal deposits found are as follows (in million tons):

China for example produces 75 to 89% of its electricity from coal. The share of coal in the total electricity mix of various countries is as (in %): India 55, US 50, Germany 48, Australia 45, UK 33. Interestingly, not all of these countries are self- sufficient in coal reserves. Contrary to that Pakistan with 185 billion tons of coal being in its backyard is content with a share of only 0.7% in the energy mix.

Regions that have been increasing coal consumption include the United States, China, India, Japan, and developing Asia. Historical share of coal in global energy consumption is nearly maintained and will continue to dominate many national fuel markets in the developing Asia. Some of the highlights of the International Energy Outlook 2000 projections for coal are as follows: i) World coal consumption is projected to increase from 5.3 billion tons in 1997 to 7.6 billion tons in 2020, an increase of 2.3 billion tons, ii) Coal use in developing Asia alone is projected to increase by 2.4 billion tons, iii) China is projected to add an estimated 180 gigawatts of new coal fired generating capacity (600 plants of 300 megawatts each) by 2020 and India approximately 50 gigawatts (167 plants of 300 megawatts each), iv) The coal share of energy consumed worldwide for electricity generation is projected to decline slightly from 36% in 1997 to 34% in 2020.

The world coal consumption has been recorded as to increase from 5.3 billion tons in 1997 to 7.6 billion tons in 2020, an increase of 2.3 billion tons. Coal use in developing Asia alone is projected to increase by 2.4 billion tons.

Coal is widely used to generate electricity, steel production, cement manufacturing, utilization in sugar industry, production of soft coke for foundry industries, use in boilers, gasification. Power plants burn coal to produce energy in the form of heat that changes water to steam; the steam turn the blades of a turbine which spines a generator to produce electricity. There is a great scope for using coal in producing electricity in the country.