Writing down on the energy crisis of Pakistan was not an easy venture, until I finally read through the thought provoking energy report by Arshad Abbasi, who is the Senior Advisor on Energy at Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
The report is an eye opener to the worsening conditions of KESC in Pakistan. The post privatization era of KESC seems to be under gradual disintegration with every new sun rise in Karachi. The inefficiency of the department has lent a heavy burden of social problems, economic losses, political upheavals and technological failures, over the city residents.
According to the SDPI report, on an average, the demand of electricity in the licensed areas of KESC is 2500 MW. Whereas, KESC has the capacity to supply only 1821 MW through its own generation and fulfills the rest of the demand by procuring power from different external sources including around 650 MW from the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) WAPDA, and Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO). It is further elaborates that, increased dependency on fossil fuel is the fundamental cause of present energy crisis and the best option available is to skew the generation mix with the renewable energy resources.
In the present scenario of energy crisis, relying totally on fossil fuels seems to be an unrealistic idea. Energy shortage and power outages cause a loss of over $6 billion yearly to the national economy. While the country is facing an electricity shortfall of 5,000 megawatts, there is a dire need to explore the alternative energy sources to avoid dependence on furnace oil for power generation. At present, Rs1.5 billion is needed daily to import a tanker containing 50,000 metric ton furnace oil to generate power required for eliminating load-shedding in the country. Pakistan`s dependence on furnace oil is further expected to surge from 30,000 to 43,000 tons in future for power generation, as PEPCO reported in 2012. Moreover, currently Pakistan is fulfilling 29 per cent of its energy need from gas.
The SDPI report stressed NEPRA to broaden its role from tariff determination to formulate standards, regulate energy sector, give incentives for improving fuel efficiency and play its due role in addressing energy crisis in Pakistan. The report recommends going for cheap and green hydro and wind power projects. Pakistan is a suitable country for the installation of wind and hydro. It has sufficiently high winds near big cities and the presence of rivers and lakes.
Currently, KESC is purchasing electricity on average at the rate of Rs 8/KWh to Rs 16/ KWh which is very high as compare to Rs 0.37/KWh obtained from Hydro power plants with minimal wheeling charges by NTDC. Dams like Bunji, Dasu, Lower Spat, Kohala and Tarbela 4th extension are capable of adding 15631 MW into the system. Further, according to PEPCO the country has a potential to produce 315,000 MW energy through wind while it could produce 54,000 MW energy through hydel.
The production of hydro power and its efficiency in upholding the values of sustainability in the country is evident from the resourceful functioning of Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam. The two mechanical set ups which were primarily built to serve the purpose of irrigation, eventually got employed to produce hydropower. These damns are a corner stone in the revolution of hyrdo power generation in Pakistan, which pay around three times of the total cost of the dams per annum. They are capable of producing hydroelectricity at less than one rupee per unit. Besides that, hydroelectricity from the run-of-river is another viable option for the country, which has a wealth of water channels, an example being the 1450-MW Ghazi Brotha Project on river Indus.
A ray of hope was shown on the country by the Ministry of Water and power, when it first announced the Power Generation Policy back in 2002. The policy was very efficiently designed to facilitate short, medium and long term plans to harness 22,555 MW of hydropower. Under the short term plans, fifteen different run-of-river hydropower projects having total capacity 1358 MW were scheduled to be completed in June 2007, and three projects including Neelum Jhelum, AJK Chakothi, AJK and Kohala on Jhelum River having gross installed capacity of 1848 MW were scheduled to be commissioned in June 2010. However, the policy met a down fall due to the lack of commitment by the implementing authorities, and couldn’t meet any of its targeted goals. This refrained Pakistan to access the 3206 MW of cheap hydroelectricity.
Over a target of 3226 MW fixed in 2002, the country could only accomplish project of gross installed capacity 156 MW, in ten years. Over and above the deliberate “go-slow” strategy of MOWP, further worsened the situation and let the window open for the expensive and unsustainable thermal power and rental power projects. Ministry’s next illusive initiative to bring revolution through small dams, seems to be another unrealistic thought on the list of miscommunication to the public, where spending a huge fiscal of 31 billion rupees would only provide 7 MW of energy and zero point three MAF of water. Somewhat, the MOWP is obsessed to the delusive idea that hydropower projects take too much time to be executed. This very disposition of the Ministry is adding more to the sufferings of public.
Pakistan is fortunate to have high wind speeds near major centres. Near Islamabad, the wind speed is anywhere from 6.2 to 7.4 metres per second (between 13.8 and 16.5 miles per hour). Near Karachi, the range is between 6.2 and 6.9 (between 13.8 and 15.4 miles per hour). This wind speed is good enough to turn a turbine from a speed of 3-4 metres per second. In addition to Karachi and Islamabad, there are other areas in Pakistan that receive a significant amount of wind. In Balochistan and Sindh provinces, sufficient wind exists to power every coastal village in the country. There also exists a corridor between Gharo and Keti Bandar that alone could produce between 40,000 and 50,000 megawatts of electricity.
According to the national renewable energy policy, adopted in December 2006, the small projects on renewable/alternate energy do not need approval and that any person can put up their own project. Moreover, at the moment, all renewable energy equipment has no sales or income tax and is free of custom duty. In March 2007, the government emphasized that the renewable energy should be part of the push to increase energy supplies by 10 to 12 percent every year. The matters that need immediate attention include the formulation of the medium term renewable energy policy that incorporates an appropriate tariff model in addition to CDM support for such projects.
This article was originally published at: the Frontier News
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.