The people of Pakistan are facing acute shortage of electricity in the year 2011 that is well numerated as 5000 MW shortfall with 12 hours load-shedding in cities while 20 hours load-shedding in rural regions.
The causes and consequences of the crisis are multiple, complex, and entangled, but there is wide agreement concerning the broad fundamental factors of the crisis. A power crisis could possibly emerge after infrastructure damage from severe weather. Pakistan often faces load shedding in peak seasons. As per Pakistan Economic Survey 2003-04, electricity consumption has increased by 8.6% during first three-quarter of last fiscal year.
Transmission losses (30%) due to poor quality (aging and overloading), power theft and a poor distribution system also account for Pakistan’s power crisis. Pipeline failures and other accidents may cause minor interruptions to power supplies. Attacks by terrorists or militia on important infrastructure are a possible problem for power consumers. Political events, military occupation, and coup may disrupt oil, gas production, and create shortages.
The continuing power crisis has not only disrupted the daily lives and businesses of people but has also added to their miseries. Industrial progress is in disaster owing to the unpredictable and the unreliable power supply. People are forced to deal with the interruptions in electricity and have to suffer in the intolerable heat and humidity with no logical solution in sight. The frequent power breakdowns have brought both the domestic and social lives to a standstill.
The solution lies in a collective national effort. The starting point of any remedial efforts should be an acknowledgement of the fact that the crisis is a self-inflicted one.
The golden age for power in Pakistan has been in 1960s and most of the 1970s, that is when Tarbela and Mangla dams were put into operation and other dams, including Kalabagh, were actively pursued.
Categorical change in the pattern of energy consumption may improve our economical growth and may reduce power shortage. The current energy consumption trends in Pakistan are extremely inefficient.
Change in lifestyles would begin with the recognition that the country is facing a national disaster and every citizen has to pitch in to overcome it. The nation has to draw a clear line between necessities (lighting, fans, TVs, computers, etc) and luxuries (air conditioners, microwaves, etc). There is not enough electricity to meet both requirements. Commercial places can reduce their power consumption by changing their working hours. Air-conditioning should not be allowed except for sensitive applications such as hospitals and research centres.
Renewable and Greener Sources of Energy are being deployed throughout the world to minimize carbon emission and to lower costs associated with power generation.
Solar Energy is received by our country on average of 19 MW/m2 and its best use is in domestic applications such as water heating and for UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) systems. It is also beneficial for providing electricity to rural areas and far off villages where it is not feasible to connect them directly to the national grid.
Wind Energy is another environment friendly alternative source of energy. The Government of Pakistan has set the ‘Alternative Energy Development’ board a target of generating 700MW of electricity through wind energy by the end of 2010 and around 9700MW by the end of 2030.
Tidal Energy is a form of hydropower that exploits the movement of water caused by tidal currents or the rise and fall in sea levels due to tides. Tidal energy is a relatively unexplored area in Pakistan. As a first step, we need a thorough survey of the coastal areas of Pakistan to identify the best locations for setting up power plants for tidal power generation.
Development of hydro-electric power plants and large water reservoirs should generate around 12000MW, almost doubling the current generation capacity.
These recommendations are neither impractical nor a step backward. If implemented they can not only avoid the collapse of a bankrupt power infrastructure but also ensure progress. In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that when we have potential options available to produce power with extremely nominal cost, then jumping towards conventional and costly fuel based energy is not a wisest step to be taken. We all know that our nation is passing through deep economic crisis but our leaders are more interested in fetching gold from the present power crisis.
The article is a research work contributed by Sanam Iftikhar.