GADANI, February 19, 2014 (AFP) – After years of rolling blackouts that have wreaked havoc on industry and fuelled political unrest, energy-starved Pakistan has set its sights on a coal-fired future.
Regarded as the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, recent discoveries of untapped coal fields in southern Pakistan have convinced the government they could be on the cusp of a solution to their energy woes.
Late last month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his former rival, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari jointly inaugurated the construction of a $1.6 billion coal plant the southern town of Thar, hailing their shared goal of ending the nation’s power crisis.
The government has also green-lighted the construction of a pilot 660 megawatt coal-fired plant in Gadani, a small, serene town on the Arabian Sea known as Pakistan’s ship-breaking hub.
A 600 megawatt plant has also been given the go-ahead in the southern city of Jamshoro.
The construction of these plants is one plank in an ambitious plan to convert many of the country’s existing oil-based thermal plants and upgrade its ports as they begin swapping one black gold for another.
“This is a major and historic fuel switching plan as we