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ISLAMABAD: The Power Division has approved M/s Port Qasim Electric Power Company Limited (PQEPCL) proposal for onsite testing of 10 percent Thar coal blending with imported coal as a first step towards conversion of 1,320 MW imported coal project.

Well-informed sources told Business Recorder that a meeting was convened on October 4, 2022 in the PPIB to finalise modalities of 10 percent blending of Thar coal.

According to Managing Director PPIB, his organization approached government of Sindh to conduct a bankable feasibility study on the conversion of imported coal-based IPPs to Thar coal. Accordingly, GoS through SECMC engaged consultant Fichtner GmbH KG & Co for conducting the feasibility study.

Subsequently, as per the data provided by PQEPCL Fichtner submitted a preliminary feasibility report for conversion of imported coal-based power plant to Thar coal on June 30, 2022 which was presented to Secretary Power Division on July 9, 2022 in a meeting. In parallel the feasibility study is also being monitored by PPIB-appointed Panel of Experts (PoE) consisting of experts from the government and private sector.

As per findings of the feasibility study submitted by Fichtner, most of the PQEPCL’S plant systems have extra capacities that can handle a certain percentage of Thar Lignite with the exception of limiting equipment, ie, Fuel Gas Desulfurization (FGD), electrostatic precipitator, pulverizer and primary air fans.

PPIB supports 10pc blending of Thar coal for PQEPCL

Fichtner claimed that the power plant can operate at approximately 50% capacity on Thar coal alone without any major modifications and with 20% blending ratio the power plant can operate at 85% of capacity. If 100% operation of the plant on Thar coal is required, then equipment capacities need to be enhanced. The study performed by Fichtner is a desktop study which requires further confirmation through on-site testing.

As directed by Secretary, Power Division in a meeting on July 9, 2022, the feasibility study was shared with PQEPCL for their views and comments. In response, PQEPCL stated that blending of 20% with de-rated capacity of 85% is not a suitable option; however, in their calculations, up to 12% blending can achieve 100% load of the plant.

The PQEPCL further agreed to on-site testing as suggested by Fichtner starting from 10% blending and final blending ratio to be adjusted as per the actual test; however, in their view increase in blending with a decrease load is not a reasonable option at this stage due to power shortages in Pakistan.

The PQEPCL had indicated that Thar coal has high sulphur content that causes erosion of boiler water wall pipe, heating surface, air pre-heater and ID fan which consequently decreases boiler service life. However, it can be avoided with anti-corrosion and other modifications in the system.

Further, blending of Thar coal will increase burden of desulfurization system including but not limited to increase in auxiliary power consumption, O&M cost, reduce system service life and such costs shall be borne by GoP. In addition, site road, coal storage, coal loading and unloading systems also need to be upgraded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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