Non Governmental Move to Remove Power Crisis
By Waheed Hamid
Nawaz Sharif is all set to take on challenges as Prime Minister of Pakistan with a visible agenda to fight the energy crisis in the country. His brother and the Chief Minister of the most populous province has already declared that improving electricity shortfall is their priority ONE on agenda. The shortage of power generation is one of the major cause of Pakistan’s current weak economic condition and this is being viewed as grave contributor to the future economic condition of the country. The experts estimate that electricity shortages cost Pakistan some $13.5 billion a year. Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is currently producing some 11,000 megawatts of power, and even that dropped in April – May to less than 9,000 megawatts, falling well short of the estimated demand of 17,000 megawatts. Power outages of 12 to 20 hours a day have crippled industry and made life miserable for business and households. The previous government poured billions into the sector without eliminating the debt or significantly increasing the supply of electricity. The industry is riddled with corruption and professional losses and depends extensively on oil for power generation, instead of coal , wind or other alternate energy generation power sources. Gas another cheap alternative is presently being misused with losses resulting in huge differences in gas input and electricity output of the power plants.
Pakistan is a unique God gifted country with natural opportunities but lacks direction to fully utilize them. The quality gas which should be provided to the industries to enhance productivity is being burnt as fuel in vehicles. According to a USAID report, Pakistan has the potential of producing 150,000 megawatts of wind energy, of which only the Sindh corridor can produce 40,000 megawatts. Jhampir, Gharo and Keti Bander are the three areas where Sindh has a huge potential for wind energy.The government sector has failed to enhance electricity generation through increase in water reservoirs for last many decades. There has been no worthwhile breakthrough in generation through wind or solar energy despite having them in abundance in this part of the world. Water is the cheapest and the best source but the procedures and feasibility require not only heavy budget but a significant time ranging between 8 to 10 years therefore short and mid term measures is what the nation is looking at . However Pakistan does not function only at the mercy of government pursuits, it has proud people, vibrant business community and a dynamic corporate sector. The research and analyses which usually is the domain of government due to its expensive and uncertain nature has been taken over by a corporate sector leading company in Pakistan.
A leading Fertilizer Company of Pakistan has successfully established and commissioned a 50 MW wind power project at Jhampir in Sindh a few days back. The company with the vision has set a pace for a forward looking , a self sufficient and a power crisis free Pakistan. The work was started as back as 2006 and has just been commissioned to the national grid system. The accomplishment is not that of 50 MW but the fact that this has lead the Turkish and Chinese companies to also invest in the area. The company also succeeded in construction of 25 out of 33 wind mill towers in Pakistan. Reportedly Chinese company is establishing a factory in same area to manufacture and assemble the wind mill towers and other accessories. The wind mill has the unique capability to start functioning within one year. Despite being an expensive venture to start with a wind mill with life of 20 to 25 years runs almost free through second half of its life. Pakistan currently subsidizes electricity and charges consumers around 9 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity that costs 12 to 14 cents to produce. The wind may start with 16 cents but is expected to reduce to almost 5 cents or less after 7-8 years of commission. Pakistan is getting support from friendly countries in improving its energy requirements. Since October 2009, the U.S. has spent $225 million on energy projects in Pakistan, adding more than 900 megawatts to the country’s generation, with schemes for upgrading power plants and dams but the leap of the corporate sector is giant and has much far reaching effects for future of a prosperous Pakistan. Pakistan has all natural indicators to support with a robust workforce which has proved itself when working in foreign environment but at end of day its none else than will and direction of a sincere and selfless leadership which will make the difference and help the Nation overcome the power crisis.