KESC unveils coal conversion project, Knight Piésold to examine feasibility

Karachi: The Karachi Electric Supply Company Limited is in the process of developing a project for the purposes of the conversion of the Bin Qasim Power Station to coal-fired power generation from the current natural gas or furnace oil mix.

The coal conversion project, after completion, would enable KESC to own the first-ever coal converted power station in the country. At present, majority of the KESC owned power generation fleet is significantly dependent upon natural gas supplied by the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited, with such provision of natural gas having shown a drastically downward trend over the recent years. Natural gas supply is feared to reduce even further in the years to come which could paralyze the generation capacity of KESC in the given circumstances.

The remainder of the KESC power generation fleet is dependent upon furnace oil which is more than four times expensive than gas ; as such furnace oil generation comes at a higher per unit cost resulting in escalating power prices to the KESC consumers and subsequent rises in levels of power theft.

KESC also faces blockage of huge receivable amount from the non-paying public and private sector consumers which puts a constraint on the fuel buying power of the utility. Alive to the situation, KESC has proactively been making arrangements for utilizing all possible alternate fuel sources to run its power generation plants in order to meet the ever-increasing electricity needs of the metropolis. These include the forthcoming import of LNG, development of a bio-gas generation plant in Landhi and the coal conversion project for BQPS.

The upcoming BQPS-II is expected to add 560 megawatts to KESC’s power generation fleet. The coal conversion project would significantly lower the electricity tariff for KESC through the conversion of BQPS with either a retrofit or installation of new boilers in the existing units. For this purpose, KESC has entered into a Professional Services Agreement with Knight Piésold and Co. for conducting a feasibility study that is expected to complete by the end of this year.

The rational behind the conversion is to cope with the fast declining fuel supply situation and to bring down the consumer end tariff. Knight Piésold and Co. is an international consulting company providing engineering and environmental services for the mining, power, water, transportation and construction sectors, with offices around the globe and has been engaged to conduct a feasibility study in order to examine the technical, financial, economic, environmental and other critical aspects of the coal conversion project.

The feasibility study by Knight Piésold and Co. would provide the utility a scope for conversion of all six units of the power station to coal however sources reveal that the project is intended to be conducted in a phase-wise approach with the conversion of two units to be taken up at a time.

The plan envisages not only addition of one more cost effective option to the fuel mix, but also attaining fuel security in view of the continuing fuel shortage.

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