Efficient Boilers Help Pakistan’s Energy Independence
Across South Asia’s largest desert lies more than 200,000 sq km of sand dunes, rocky outcrops and saline depressions that are home to 45 million people, making it one of the most densely inhabited deserts in the world. For Pakistan, however, it’s what lies far beneath the ground that makes the Thar Desert central to its economic development and energy independence goals: lignite coal.
Currently, Pakistan largely relies on imported crude oil, diesel and natural gas to fuel its power plants, a situation that puts pressure on foreign currency reserves. The launch of the Thar Block II Power Plant, the country’s first coal plant to be fired using Pakistani Thar lignite from the Thar Coalfield will help relieve some of this pressure. GE has just been selected to supply two 330 megawatt (MW) boilers for the project.
The two GE circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers will help deliver a total of 660MW to Pakistan’s grid. GE is a technology leader in the CFB boiler field, with capability to burn reliably high-moisture lignite, the type of coal mined from the Thar field. By operating at a low-combustion temperature, the boilers minimize the amount of nitrogen oxides released, providing coal-rich markets with the opportunity to reduce emissions and operating costs while increasing output.
The plant will support Pakistan’s drive towards energy independence and promote the country’s goal under Vision 2025 to increase the share of domestically sourced fuel for power generation to more than 50%. Expanding Thar Coalfield production will help the country meet its growing power generation needs, spur economic development and bring energy security.
China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) and three local companies are jointly developing the Thar Block II plant. The project represents growing cooperation along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major megaproject to build infrastructure to connect Port Gwadar in southern Pakistan to Xinjiang, China’s northwestern autonomous region, through transportation and energy networks.
Today, GE-built technologies generate more than 25% of Pakistan’s electricity from renewable and fossil-fuel sources, while also supporting the country’s development in the areas of transportation, aviation, oil and gas, and healthcare.