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Business Recorder

Published Date: Aug 18, 2012


Thermal power plants in Pakistan were inefficient and consumed a large quantity of fuel to produce a unit of electricity: Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) used 11 to 18 cubic feet of gas to generate just one KWh of electricity.

Data compiled by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) showed that increasing dependence on fossil fuel (petrol and gas) was the main reason behind the current energy crisis, and the way to overcome it was to go for cheap hydroelectric and wind power projects, which were not being constructed because of lack of investment.

SDPI organised a seminar on Friday and presented a report titled ‘Pakistan Power Outlook’, highlighting the causes of energy disruptions in Pakistan. KESC was taken as a case study. The report’s findings, conclusions and recommendations are equally applicable to all thermal power plants of the country.

“In all successful privatisations of public sector organisations, the regulator plays a vital role during post-privatisation period. In the case of KESC, regulatory role of Nepra and non-existence of a monitoring mechanism at the Ministry of Water and Power became one of the main causes of the current energy crisis,” the SDPI report said. The SDPI suggested that the only way out of this crisis was to “invest and buy affordable electricity from hydro power plants, improve fuel efficiency of power plants and introduce ‘smart grid’ with advance metering system”.

The adviser for Water and Power at SDPI and the author of the report, Arshad H Abbasi, said that Nepra’s role had been curtailed to just tariff determination, which could be done via a simple software application. According to its mandate, Nepra was supposed to act independently and exercise autonomous decisions. “But this is evident that Nepra has become a department working under the Ministry of Water and Power,” Abbasi said. SDPI recommended that investment should be sought for producing cheap and sustainable energy by utilising the country’s huge hydroelectric and wind power potential.

“Dams (such as) Bunji, Dasu, Lower Spat, Kohala and Tarbela 4th Extension are capable of adding 15,631 MW to the national grid. Feasibility studies of most of these projects have been completed but their development is stalled (because of) a lack of funds and inefficiencies within the departments,” report said. The report also calls upon KESC and authorities concerned to invest and buy electricity from hydel power plants at minimal cost, instead of purchasing energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) at a very high cost.