PEOPLE IN Pakistan are suffering from energy crisis, due to lopsided priorities, poor management and lack of accountability. The sad state of affairs is that despite having enormous renewable resources of energy, the country is forced to import a huge amount of hydrocarbon to meet its energy needs. In 2001, the country had 4,000 megawatts of excess power capacity, but today unfortunately the situation has gained threatening prospects.
As per a recent report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan’s economy faced a major hurdle in the shape of its domestic energy crisis. The ADB identified rising inflation, investment decline, low tax revenue and losses at public-sector enterprises as other factors hindering economic growth, but ADB saw power as the main constraint for economic growth, stressing for better load-management to minimise commercial losses.
Seriousness, of the government towards this national challenge is obvious from the fact that only Rs 119 billion out of total Rs 338 billion funds allocated in budget for the fiscal year 2011-12 were released for WAPDA. Similarly, the cost of Mangla Upraising Project rose to Rs 102 billion from estimated cost of Rs 62 billion merely due to unnecessary delay in releasing of funds by the government.
Financial irregularities also remain another hallmark of the government as Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Project, 969 megawatt, was required to ensure by NICL, but concerned officials got bank securities from non-accredited financial institutions.
Amid such prevailing sorrow state of affairs, government was required to fix power tariff in accordance with the rules and regulations set by National Electronic Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) with a focus on ‘Energy Conservation’ to overcome the challenge confronted by the nation.
Apart from conservation of energy, hydroelectricity, the solar, wind and geothermal and thermal power are the best alternatives to overcome the deepening energy crisis in Pakistan as geothermal is a great capacity of generating 100,000 megawatts of electricity through this technology.
Pakistan has untouched oil and gas reserves under the barren mountains of Baluchistan and the sands of Sindh-coal, estimated at 175 billion tons.
If the natural gas found in Sui could have been used for power generation projects, there would have been no such phenomenon of ‘load shedding’, and we would have been immensely developed. Pakistan produces about 81 per cent of its electricity through oil and gas which costs us about $9.4 billion. To put it in other terms, that is about 53 percent of our total exports and is the biggest cost on our import bill.
There are 850 trillion cubic feet of coal in Sindh, which is worth $25 trillion, but only if exploited. To meet the challenge there is a dire need to go to the alternate sources of energy and the largest coal reserves of Pakistan exist in Thar.
The process of converting coal into product gas underground can be a good alternate source of energy.
Besides coal, Biomass renewable energy is also a solution to our problems. Actually, Biomass is material derived from plants or animals, includes wastes, agricultural residues and garbage. Subsidies and tax concessions on import of machinery for establishing biogas power plants in Pakistan are required for making biomass popular in the community as it can prove to be a great source of energy for us as Pakistan is an agricultural country.
Solar energy is the best and suitable form for Pakistan as the country has potential of generating 29,000 megawatt electricity from the sun.
Nuclear energy can also overcome the energy needs as Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has developed a large infrastructure to manufacture equipment for power but even then we are not able to make considerable progress in the nuclear field.
Political controversies relating to Kalabagh Dam should be resolved. In this connection seminars and media can play a good role. If there is a need the modifications in design may also be suggested.
About 40 per cent of Pakistan is off the national grid that means they effectively get to no electricity. The way our grid operates, it is already suffering from heavy line losses and other technical issues, which makes it extremely hard and costly to get 40 per cent of the Pakistan on to the national grid.