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How can we Overcome Electricity Crisis in Pakistan
An energy crisis is any great shortfall (or price rise) in the supply of energy resources to an economy. It usually refers to the shortage of oil and electricity or other natural resources.
The crisis often has effects on the rest of the economy, with many recessions being caused by an energy crisis in some form. In particular, the production costs of electricity rise, which raises manufacturing costs. For the consumer, the price of different goods and products rises, leading to reduced consumer confidence and spending, higher transportation costs and general price rising.
Electricity is not only the energy resource which is facing shortfalls. Some people argue that world is heading towards energy crisis. Energy resources have depleted. Whatever resources are available are simply too expensive to buy or already acquired by countries which had planned and acted long time ago. Delayed efforts in the exploration sector have not been able to find sufficient amounts of energy resources. Nations of the world which have their own reserves are not supplying energy resources anymore; only the old contracts made decades ago are active.
Pakistan has been especially facing an unprecedented electricity crisis since the last few years. The problem becomes more severe during summers. However, this winter was no different. During the peak crisis there was a power outage of 3-4 hours everyday. Those without generators and UPS faced tremendous problems. The prices of both continued to increase due to a sharp increase in their demand. Many industries have closed due to insufficient power supply. At domestic level, alternate methods like solar, biogas and other methods are being tried for mere survival.
The electric power sector in Pakistan is operated by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation (KESC), with additional generation contribution from Independent (private) Power Producers (IPPs). WAPDA is responsible for supplying power to all of Pakistan, with the exception of Karachi, which is supplied by KESC. Currently, 15 IPPs operate in Pakistan under a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) regulates the power sector in Pakistan, which includes power generation, transmission and distribution. NEPRA is also responsible for determining electricity rates in Pakistan.
Growth in Pakistan’s Economy:
Robust economic growth-rates over the past several years have encouraged Pakistan to ignore fundamental weaknesses in the economy. Yes, Pakistan’s economy is growing; that’s the good news. Pakistan’s economy is performing at a very high note with GDP growing at an exceptional rate, touching 8.35% in 2004-05. In its history of 58 years, there has been only a few golden years where the economy grew above 7%. This year official expectations are that GDP growth rate will be around 6.5 – 7.0%. For the coming years, the government is targeting GDP growth rate above 6%. The bad news is that with this growth comes higher electricity consumption and greater pressure on the country’s electricity resources. Unless Pakistanis — the government, but individual citizens as well— act now, the country’s future will indeed be dark, in more ways than one.
Consumption of Electricity:
The survey said household sector has been the largest consumer of electricity accounting for 44.2 per cent of total electricity consumption followed by industries 31.1 per cent, agriculture 14.3 per cent, other government sector 7.4 per cent, commercial 5.5 per cent and street light 0.7 per cent. As per Pakistan Economic Survey 2003-04, electricity consumption has increased by 8.6 per cent during first three-quarter of last fiscal year. However, a top level WAPDA official maintained that electricity demand surged up to 13 per cent during last quarter.
Current Scenario of Electricity Supply in Pakistan:
At present, demand for electricity exceeds supply. Power outages and planned power cuts (euphemistically termed “load-shedding”) are, for many, an everyday occurrence. In addition to their economic costs, electricity shortages foster political instability. Last summer angry public protests in Karachi and riots in Liaquatabad demonstrated how close many Pakistanis are to reaching the limits of their patience. A widespread power outage affecting much of the country last September triggered panicky rumours of a coup. This unrest may be only a foretaste of things to come. Absent drastic action, Pakistan’s electricity situation is expected to get far worse in the years ahead.Keeping in view the past trend and the future development, WAPDA has also revised its load forecast to eight per cent per annum as against previous estimates of five per cent on average. Even the revised load forecast has also failed all assessments due to which Authority has left no other option but to start load management this year, which may convert into scheduled loadshedding over a period of two year, sources maintained.
The country needs a quantum jump in electricity generation in medium-term scenario to revert the possibilities of loadshedding in future due to shrinking gap between demand and supply of electricity at peak hours.
According to an official report, the gap between firm supply and peak hours demand has already been shrunk to three digit (440 MW) during this fiscal and will slip into negative columns next year (-441 MW) and further intensify to (-1,457 MW) during the financial year 2008-09.
No power generation projects were commissioned during this fiscal year and the total installed capacity of electricity generation remained 19,478 MW to meet 15,082 MW firm supply and 14,642 MW peak demands.
Malakand-lll (81MW), Pehur (18MW) and combined cycle power plant at Faisalabad (450MW) were planned to be commissioned during the year 2007. Besides this, Khan Khwar (72MW), Allai Khwar (121MW), Duber Khwar (130MW) and Kayal Khwar (130MW) are expected to be completed in 2008 along with Golan Gol (106MW) and Jinnah (96MW). Moreover, Matiltan (84MW), New Bong Escape (79MW) and Rajdhani (132MW) are expected by 2009 while Taunsa (120MW) is likely to be completed by 2010. WAPDA had also planned to install a high efficiency combined cycle power plant at Baloki (450MW), which is expected to be completed by 2010. In addition of these, power plant 1 & 2 of 300 MW each at Thar Coal with the assistance of China are also planned for commissioning in 2009. Moreover, efforts are also under way with China National Nuclear Corporation for the construction of a third nuclear power plant with a gross capacity of 325 MW at Chashma, they added.Meanwhile, provincial rivalries and widespread public opposition have significantly slowed the government’s plans to build dams capable of generating electricity. Many Pakistanis argue that large hydroelectric projects should be a last resort, after low-cost energy conservation measures have been fully utilised.
Alternative Energy Resources:
The policy makers of Pakistan have so far failed to understand one thing. They do talk about making dams and setting up nuclear power plants but why do they not understand the importance and benefits of alternate energy sources such as solar, windmill energy etc. They are cheap and quick methods for producing electricity. Pakistan is a very blessed country because solar energy is available in most cities all year round similarly wind energy is readily available in the coastal areas. These energy sources if tapped can be of great help in reducing the current demand supply gap.On the other hand, hydropower and coal are perhaps under-utilised today, as Pakistanhas ample potential supplies of both, at a time when these resources provide for relatively little of Pakistan’s energy needs. Pakistan’s proven coal reserves are the world’s sixth largest, and the government intends to increase the share of coal in the overall energymix from 7 to 18 percent by 2018 — a course that may make sense from an energystandpoint, but which carries troubling environmental implications.Nuclear power at this point accounts for barely one percent of Pakistan’senergy consumption. The government has announced plans to develop a generatingcapability of 8,800 megawatts (MW) of nuclear energy by 2020, compared to thecountry’s current output of less than 450 MW. But this goal is unlikely to bereached unless Islamabad is able to persuade the United States and other western countries to help it develop civilian nuclear technology, an idea certain to meet with resistance in the West.Nonetheless, renewable energy labours under severe handicaps in competing with conventional energy — hidden subsidies that allow for lower conventional energy generation costs, for example, and policies that permit conventional energy to disregard the costs of the pollution it creates when pricing power. Unless renewable energy is given a level playing field, a major expansion of renewable energy generation is unlikely, and the government’s goal of 10 percent by 2015 will not be met.Rural areas across India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal have all implemented successful clean and renewable energy initiatives. Bangladesh, for instance, has experienced considerable success with solar home systems financed through micro-financing. Pakistan’s neighbours have something to teach Pakistan, if only it will listen.But solemn promises and soaring rhetoric will not do the job. Preparing for Pakistan’s energy needs over the next quarter century will require long-term vision, a national commitment widely shared among the country’s political and business leaders, inspired leadership sustained from one government to the next, and most of all, political will to make and carry out difficult choices.Pakistan — the country, not just the government of the day — needs to decide thatmuddling through is not enough. Pakistan, as a country, has to get serious about creating an energy strategy, and then — and this is the hard part — about implementing it.