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Business Recorder

Published Date: Apr 26, 2015

International energy moot: Concern voiced over wide gap between gas supply and demand

KARACHI: In a significant move to promote energy conservation, the government is considering reducing duties on inverter-type air conditioners and LED televisions to make these home appliances affordable, a senior official said on Saturday.

Duties are expected to be cut in the upcoming budget as part of the government’s plan to fight the crippling energy crisis, said Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform Member Energy Akhtar Ali. “Reduction in duties will be applicable on both local manufacturers and importers,” he said.

“Consumption of electricity goes up much more when people start using air conditioners. We have to do something about it.”

The inverter-type AC has an inbuilt system to regulate the flow of electricity, reducing its consumption by 30% to 50%.

According to a survey carried out by Ministry of Planning, around 3,000 megawatts or 21% of entire electricity generation goes into running air conditioners during peak summer, Ali said.

“This figure – 3,000MW – could be off the mark by 10% to 12% but the fact is that power demand jumps from 10,000MW in winters to 14,000MW and beyond in summers. Almost all this increase is due to use of fans and ACs.”  Duty of 25% on LED televisions might be removed.

About long-delayed energy projects, he said work will start on construction of coal-based power plants in the next couple of months now that the financing issue has been settled.

Islamabad and Beijing recently signed multi-billion dollar deals, which include thermal and hydro power plants and renewable energy projects.

“I believe the power plant being built at Port Qasim and the one being worked on by Hubco are in advance stages of implementation,” he said.

Former Petroleum Secretary Dr Gulfaraz Ahmed said that he was hopeful about Pakistan entering the race to exploit its shale oil and gas reserves despite concerns surrounding export of the technology, which helped herald its revolution in the US.

“The Challenge is not to find shale reserves, but to commercialise those reserves,” he said. “Only a small percentage of shale finds will be economically recoverable.”

About the increasing share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix, he said that a decision was taken in 1998 to promote the fuel’s consumption in auto sector to control carbon emissions.

“That was the right thing to do. However, we had also planned gas import projects at the same time. But those did not materialise.”

Senior Energy Analyst at Sustainable Development Policy Institute Maha Kamal said that the government needs to share details about the LNG deal signed with Qatar.