Chronic energy shortage



Hassan Ahmad

“Crisis” is one word which has become part of ordinary Pakistani’s vocabulary like nothing else. First, we have sugar crisis, then wheat followed by electricity and to add more fuel to the fire now we are going through the worst gas shortage in our history. In Punjab, this crisis has hurt the most with every person suffering its consequences. Thousands of daily waged workers have become jobless in industrial areas like Faisalabad, in homes women folk is suffering to feed their children, passengers wait for hours as the public transport has no CNG while those having personal transport wait for hours in order to obtain much required CNG refilling.

Energy crisis has become the most critical issue all over the world. But energy crisis in Pakistan has affected our lives very badly. In cities, we have 12 to 18 hours load shedding, while in villages the situation is even the worst. Furthermore, in winter, we have storage of ‘Sui’ gas too. Energy is just like a blood in the body of modern economy. Let us discuss the causes, effects and possible solution of this situation.

During the last three decades, we had not built new dams and water reservoirs. We did rely on thermal units. These units are run by oil and gas. The oil prices are soaring higher and higher and no stability is seen in near future. On the other hand, gas reserves are getting short in supply. So, supply is decreasing whereas the demand is increasing, because of growing population. All these things have worsened the situation.

Shortages of energy and load shedding have cast negative effects on our lives. Especially, our economy has been hit hard. Our export orders are not fulfilled in time. Many of the factories and industrial units have been closed. Thus millions of workers have been unemployed. People in home have become the victims of many psychological diseases. During demonstration on roads against the government and power companies, some of them damage public property.

Energy is essential for the maintenance and development of human life as well as for economic activities. Most of developing countries and emerging powers plan well in advance to ensure not only sufficient energy for the present but also for the future requirements.

Today, Pakistan is facing a looming energy crisis with shortfall that varies from 5000-7000MW. Due to that shortfall, long load shedding at one hand have adversely affected individual and social life. While on the other hand it has resulted into shut down of a number of industrial units. It had not only affected the attitude of the people and forced them to come on the roads as protest but also plays a destructive role by shattering the confidence of the investors and the industrialists.

To come out of this horrible situation, we will have to take steps on two levels, Short term and long term. In short term, we should adopt such policies as could run our economy on priority basis. We should also try to save energy. The government should make new agreements with Iran and central Asian republics for cheap energy.

In the long run, we must shift our reliance on hydro projects from thermal projects. The coal reserves of “Thar” can also be used for cheap electricity. If we do not realize the seriousness of this crisis, it can further worsen the situation. So, remedial measures on war-footings must be taken to cope with this giant problem.

The developments of the hydro-electric plants and large water reservoirs such as Kalabagh dam (3600MW) should be begin immediately. Pakistan, at present, produces approximately 0.2% of its total energy through coal. Compare to this global average of 40% electricity production through coal. Pakistan should utilize this source to produce electricity at cheap rate.

Domestic applications of solar power should be publicized and encouraged. Utilizing financial resources effectively to make sure independent power producers (IPPs) and power plants based on oil operate to their maximum capacity. Immediate steps should be taken to reduce transmission losses and power theft. It is best time to take concrete steps to combat the current energy crisis.

We have to replace traditional bulbs with CFL’s and LED’s. They use less watts of electricity and last longer. If millions of people across the globe use LED’s and CFL’s for residential and commercial purposes, the demand for energy can go down and an energy crisis can be averted.

There are a number of new technologies out there that make lighting controls that much more interesting and they help to save a lot of energy and cash in the long run. Preset lighting controls, slide lighting, touch dimmers, integrated lighting controls are few of the lighting controls that can help to conserve energy and reduce overall lighting costs.

People who use different options to generate power must be given permission to plug into the grid and getting credit for power you feed into it. The hassles of getting credit of supplying surplus power back into the grid should be removed. Apart from that, subsidy on solar panels should be given to encourage more people to explore renewable options.




About the author

Mian Bilal