KARACHI: The consumption of coal in Pakistan is destined to increase manifold from five million tonnes to more than 15 million tonnes per annum, said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority.The power regulator Monday unveiled a plan to hire outside consultants to prepare a guidebook for periodic fuel price adjustment for coal-run power projects.The NEPRA said there were at least three under-construction coal projects, which would soon achieve commencement of operation in the next two years while some bagasse-based cogeneration power plants were also using coal when bagasse is not available.On the other hand, the global coal consumption fell by a record amount last year, driven by a rise in natural gas, increasing deployment of wind and solar power, and a shift in China away from heavy industry.A report published by the BP stated that global coal consumption fell by 1.7 percent last year. In the US, coal consumption dropped by nearly 10 percent, In China, which accounted for about half of the coal burned worldwide, coal consumption fell by 1.6 percent in 2016, compared with an average 3.7 percent annual expansion in the preceding 11 years. In the UK, coal demand fell by 52.5 percent as renewable energy generation increased significantly. However, the power regulator said the Pakistan coal market was destined to increase manifold from five million tonnes to more than 15 million tons per annum. “There is going to be an enormous load of work on a periodic basis with regards to revision in fuel cost component of the above mentioned power plants.” Therefore, the authority desires to hire an individual consultant or firm to prepare a manual for periodic fuel price adjustment to verify the coal price of each cargo delivered to the coal-based power plants and independently recommend a final coal price of each coal cargo shipment received during a month, it said. “The consultant will be required to carry out a detailed review of the pricing mechanism as stipulated in the NEPRA’s determination and accordingly, prepare manual/guidelines, which shall have a mechanism to fix different parameters.” Currently, Pakistan is producing 3.5 million tonnes coal and importing four to five million tonnes every year to meet needs of different sectors like steel, cement and power generation.The coal is imported mainly from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, South Africa and US and consumed in steel and cement manufacturing and power generation units. It is pertinent to mention here that coal-fired power plants are the biggest industrial emitters of mercury and arsenic into the air. They emit 84 of the 187 hazardous air pollutants identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), posing a threat to human health and the environment.Coal-fired power plants also emit cadmium, chromium, dioxins, formaldehyde, furans, lead, nickel, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. They emit volatile organic compounds, including benzene, toluene, and xylene. Emissions include acid gases such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride. Small amounts of radioactive materials such as radium, thorium, and uranium are also emitted. Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2017.