Pakistan, a country battling many political and economical issues, is currently facing around 6 GW of power shortage that is gradually choking the country’s energy system. The main reason behind the huge shortfall of energy is decades of mismanagement of the industry that ignored the economic and population growth in the country, leaving a huge demand with little supply. To top it off, billions of unpaid dues to fuel-supplying companies have caused fuel shortages for power generation, only adding to the already existing shortfall.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on April 22, 2010, among many other steps, officially extended the one-day weekend to a two-day weekend in desperation of muffling the power crisis that was swirling out of hand. The energy disaster, born in 2006, has reached an alarming state where many areas in the country are experiencing eight to 10 hours of load shedding on average.
Power in Pakistan is supplied mainly by the Water & Power Development Authority, except for the City of Karachi, which is managed by the Karachi Electric Supply Company. Other than WAPDA and KESC, there are a number of independent power producers and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which supply power into the overall energy mix. WAPDA mainly depends on hydroelectric generation and fossil fuel power generation, with close to 7,000 MW and 5,000 MW respectively. KESC contributes around 1,800 MW, which is comprised mainly of thermal generation. Apart from the two major power contributors, independent power producers collectively put in a share of roughly 6,500 MW, and an estimated 460 MW of nuclear energy provided by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
Pakistan meets 53% of its total energy requirements through indigenous oil and gas production, 19% through other sources, and the remaining 27% of the energy need is met through imports, a Feb. 19 news report analyzed. However, the Government of Pakistan’s Private Power and Infrastructure Board’s estimation of the supply versus demand trend through to 2020 does not seem to be too promising for the country, where demand is expected increase at a much faster rate than any planned supply of energy. This lays out a gloomy picture for the country, unless drastic measures are taking to secure an energy-abundant and energy-efficient future in Pakistan. Gilani, who just inaugurated Rs 2.5 billion first fully integrated SSGC-LPG terminal to handle 2 million metric tons of LPG at Port Qasim, further revealed in the report that the country plans to increase energy imports to make up for the immediate energy deficit.
With the current rising demand of energy around the world, it is highly unfortunate that a lack of progressive energy policy in Pakistan completely towers any prospects of renewable energy development in the country. While developed countries are putting caps on fossil fuel generation and encouraging renewable energy development, Pakistan’s heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels, coupled with the shortfall and economic inflation, is suffocating the consumers with heavy electricity bills. If conditions remain the same, the predicted increase in demand with a short supply will infuse the power crisis with political struggles. Protests and riots are already increasing across the country in protest of crippled industries and households due to the energy crisis; yet the government has failed to bring forth a promising energy solution for the coming years.
Industry, commerce and daily lives have been infested with the load-shedding viral which is worsening with time. The power crisis slowly corroded the infrastructure of the country hitting the industry the hardest. Factories and mills slowly froze and crippled the economy, encouraging inflation that has drastically brought down the standard of life of the citizens. How exactly does the government plan to fix the issue? Is the exponentially rising lack of trust in the current government going to make it difficult for the leaders to keep a steady approach towards solving the energy drama? Are the leaders making statements beyond any practical application? Politics and their influence on development in Pakistan can be ever confusing.
“Pakistan concluded a memorandum of understanding with the government of Qatar, during my recent visit there, to import 500 million cubic feet of LNG per day to generate 2500 megawatts of power in the country,” Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said, adding that “[T]he key mega projects undertaken by the present government to meet energy demands include the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Thar Coal Power Project, TAPI project, and CASA-1000, in addition to dozens of small and medium-sized dams across the country.” At the same time, he stated that the country’s current gas reserves may be “insufficient” to meet the rising energy needs in the future.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Asim Hussain said that LPG was ignored in the country, but the present government would establish two LPG plants for producing 100 mmcf of gas per day, one in the south and the other in the north of Pakistan, a Feb. 18 report by the APP said.