Coal-based power generation jumps 95pc in 2019

KARACHI: Coal-based electricity generation jumped 94.5 percent to 2,030 GWh in the year to November 2019, taking its share in country’s energy mix to 27 percent, data issued by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) showed on Tuesday.

Analysts said induction of China Power Hub Generation and Engro Powergen Thar in the system was the key reason behind a massive surge in coal-based power generation.

China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) set up a 1,320-megawatt plant at a cost of $2 billion at Hub, Balochistan, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The imported coal-fired plant started commercial operations by supplying power to the national grid station in August 2019. The Engro Powergen Thar project of 660MW, set up at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion, came on line in July 2019.

Authorities opted to utilise a massive amount of coal for power production after having replaced the expensive oil-fired power generation.

Pakistan has suffered crippling energy shortages in the past and the government has sought to fill this capacity gap with coal-fired power generation, financed by China.

China is investing in 21 energy projects under the CPEC, a flagship project under the larger Belt and Road Initiative. The majority of this investment has gone into coal power generation.

Overall electricity generation clocked in at 7,434GWh (10,325 MW) during November 2019, compared to 7,546GWh (10,480 MW) in same month of 2018.

Major contributors during the month were hydel, coal, nuclear, gas and RLNG (regasified liquefied natural gas). On yearly basis, coal-based power generation went up by 95 percent followed by 13 percent rise in hydel-based generation. However, gas and RLNG based generation went down by 54 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

During 11MCY19 (January-November 2019), power generation went up by 0.1 percent to settle at 116,460GWh. “Given higher generation on hydel and coal, fuel costs have shrunk by 5.4 percent to average at Rs5.18/KWh during 11MCY19,” Analyst Rao Aamir Ali at Arif Habib Limited said.

Fuel cost for power generation went down by 15.2 percent to Rs3.34/KWh in November. The decline in fuel cost was led by 12 percent fall in coal-based generation cost, attributable to 23.3 percent decrease in coal prices, the he said.

“Being a relatively cheaper source of power generation, the higher generation has also contributed to lower fuel cost of overall system.”

There was zero generation on furnace oil, which is the most expensive source for power generation. Similarly bagasse-based cost of generation also went down by 11.4 percent to Rs5.5/KWh.

On the other hand, hydel-based power generation went up 13.1 percent year-on-year to 2,900GWh, nuclear-based increased 4.6 percent year-on-year to 858GWh, wind-based power was up 19.7 percent to 152GWh, while solar-based power generation inched up 2.4 percent to 49GWh.

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