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Power Crisis

By Rizwan Razi

 

Pakistan in particular and Punjab in general is suffering from a worst kind of power load-shedding of country’s history for the last more than two  years and relief is nowhere in sight. None of the governments has put either the roadmap or workable plan for low priced electricity to plug in widening gap between demand and supply of electricity in the country. Ironically our policy makers at Planning Commission (PC) are not seemed to do this in near future too. Blame game is on between different stake holders. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is controlling the 57 per cent population of the country, continuously saying that Punjab is being victimized by the federation over the issue of electricity load-shedding and treating the largest consumer base of the country as ‘step mother’. He believes that prolonged power outages in remote areas of the Punjabare a result of vindictive thinking of not less than President Asif Zardari against the people of the province. He is of the view that load-shedding should be in equitable manner across the country and shared equally. Even the recently passed 18th amendment is not able to steer the nation out of this crisis which is weakening the foundation of Federation.

On the other hand one fails to understand that with 4,000 MW shortage from total demand of 17500 MW during the peak consumption season of summer, why the provinces are having 10-12 hrs load shedding. Nobody can explain that shortage which is not more than 25 per cent of total load why the nation is suffering almost 50 per cent power outages. It mean someone at somewhere, may be from a critical stage is not telling the facts to the nation. Punjab CM, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has also turned up at many protests against loadshedding at different venues of provinces. He is continuously raising this issue at different forums and during the last meeting of Council for Common Interests (CCI), held at federal capital, Islamabad, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif managed to get pass a resolution unanimously for equitable distribution of power shortage but of no avail so far as there is no baseline change in load shedding behavior even after the passage of this resolution.

On the other hand world is moving fast towards alternative and renewable sources for electricity and other requirements of energy. In a bid to lower carbon emissions and save the ozone layer from further depletion, developed nations are aptly replacing the carbon emission power producing modes to those new sources which are less or no carbon emitting thus snatching the big chunk of ‘Carbon Credits’ from the United Nation funds for environment, a subsidy agreed by the global nation as a Kyoto Protocol.  UKgovernment has roll out its plan and she is planning to implement it after the successful holding of London Olympics to put whole burden of its domestic customers on locally installed solar power producing panels installed at the roof tops of the residential units. This may be because of line losses which were caused by long wires of huge and aging distribution network of electricity in this economy which are adding cost to power distribution. Yet many experts are terming it as a smart move.Germanyis flexing his technology muscle to capture this contract asUKgovernment would give a one time subsidy to its nationals. German companies have lowered their rates to as lower as $ 0.6 per Watt while pushing at least three Chinese solar cell producers at the brink of bankruptcy.

However, Spain and Germany, two leading economies of European Union (EU) are not far behind as they have commendable work on ‘Molt and Salt Tower’ electricity producing capacities and are busy like a bee in installing them with fast pace at every available corner. Though consider to be a dwindling economy and asking for a rescue from the EU,Spainis using its Olive fields by installing mirrors and reflecting and converting the sun light to a particular point of aSaltTowerswhich consumer as well as store energy for the time when there would be no sun in the night. So as compare to solar panel power producing system, this is more emphatic and reliable source of power supply. At least eight acres of field is required to produce one megawatt of electricity. Just keep in mind that we have abandoned of deserted and leveled land in Thar and Thal deserts ofPunjabprovince which are ideal for such power producing systems.

Geo Thermal is considered to be another source of efficient power production especially whenUnitedStateandCanadais mainly using it for power supplies for its defense installations, a place where reliability cannot be compromised. A number of unconfirmed reports suggest that the same system is also being used at Bagram Base nearKabul. In this method of power production, the internal heat of earth. Experts believe that at the depth of 10,000 feet depth, the internal temperature of earth rose to 200 plus Celsius. Thus they drill the land to such a depth and install heat absorbers to that depth, bring heat to the less depth of 10000 feet where all the installations to convert this energy into electricity are installed and a fat insulated wire appear out of the land carrying this precious commodity. Very simple and clean. YetPakistanis suffering two handicaps. FirstPakistanis yet to conduct a geothermal survey for its whole terrain.Punjab, where chances of underground cliffs are minimum but who would ask for a geo thermal survey?Punjabgovernment, which is busy in tent protests and blame game? No way. None of the companies engaged in this business, would put its stake in the absence of this survey which ensure maximum possibility of the success of drilling.

Secondly, in the global scene of technology, only US and Canadian firms have installed and operated this system of power production successfully and they both insist to keep the control of the installations via satellite which anybody intend to install through them. But this is the only system which can ensure power supply within 180 days after the start of the project. However, one should keep in mind that one Geo Thermal installation can give only ten megawatt of electricity. Therefore, different small hubs of industries can utilize this system by sharing the financial burden. One Geo Thermal system cost not more than two billion rupees while a financing facility on 30:70 per cent ratio is also available from their respective financial institutions.

While discussing Geo Thermal we should not forget Geo Magmatic, which is also called as dam-less technology. In this method of power producing system, turbines can be installed in the running water at canals of certain capacity. Currently, Ghazi-Brotha,ChashamJehlumLinkCanals(if allowed to be run at the designed capacity) andBRBCanalsmay be the best destination for installing this mode of power generation. If nation is not getting united on the issue of dams, only Ghazi Brotha is designed to add additional 1500 MW in the system by this method. Moreover, no technology transfer would be required in this mode as the required turbines are already being produced in the engineering hub ofPakistan,Gujranwala. What a tragedy that most vocal on the power load shedding,Punjabgovernment is neither doing anything nor intention of doing even a snail pace move on this source of energy production. What is the moral justification left with such government of raising hues and cries and exploit the sentiments of masses.

On the other hand oneChinawhich is one out of three emerging economies along withIndiaandBrazil, is replacing their existing Carbon emission power producing capacities with the renewable energy systems.Chinahas recently completed Three Gorges Dam, which is a hydroelectric dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity of22,500 MW but is second to Itaipu Dam with regard to the generation of electricity annually.

Except for a ship lift, the dam project was completed and fully functional as of July 4, 2012, when the last of the 32 main turbines in the underground plant began production. Each main turbine has a capacity of 700 MW. The dam body was completed in 2006. Coupling the dam’s 32 main turbines with two smaller generators (50 MW each) to power the plant itself, the total electric generating capacity of the dam is 22,500 MW. For a layman, this is a multi story dam and at the same time, Peoples Republic of China, an old and time tested friend of Pakistan, has already dropped a number of hints to Islamabad that they are ready to share this technology for Pakistan and in this way, power production capacities of Mangla, Tarbela and Brotha can be enhanced at least three times. Currently, Tarbela has a capacity of 3471 MW, Mangla 1000 MW and Brotha has a capacity of 1450 MW. Just imagine if only these capacities are multiplied through this latest technology with the help ofChina, it would be sufficient to meet our near future needs too. But this would not allow a lot of hidden hands to make fortune and deposit them in overseas banks of off shore destinations.

At the same times,Indiahas already almost fully exploited her available domestic resources of coal and thermal resources and now this energy hungry nation hounding from one place to other hunt energy. She is diverting water flow destined toPakistanat one hand while planning for a limited aggression on the international border ofPakistanat Thar to capture some parts of this reservoir. She is entering and existing Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and after ditchingPakistanon IPI project, again entering the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline with the help of US pressures with no guarantee that it would not again ditchPakistanon this project.

I have no intention of repeating the rhetoric of potential of Thar Coal reservoirs at this juncture as this project has completely gone to dogs after handing it over to the provincial government of Sindh in the aftermaths of 18th constitutional amendment. However, one can ask that what thePunjab government has done so far for the Dera Ghazi Khan and Chkwal Caol reservoirs and who have allotted Chinniot’s Coal Mines to his cousins at throw away prices in small pieces that none of the major economically feasible power projects can be installed at Chiniot Coal reservoirs.

Future is brewing up in front of our eyes and all these information which are not a rocket science, are very much available on the internet should one have an iota of intention of implementing all or any one of these technology for the salvation of this nation from the menace of power load shedding. Ironically,Pakistanhas capacity to install and operate all these technology at the same times and investment would not be an issue once the state declare its policy of supporting all such initiatives.

We must keep in mind that a nation, which have no domestic and reliable sources of energy its development is always vulnerable. Despite being one of the major oil producer countries and member of OPEC, she has still developed Ethanol as an alternative fuel, again which can be produced in 18 installed ethanol distilleries across the country. According to experts, should all these distallries start production,Pakistanwould able to replace its existing demand of 600 million metric tones of gasoline, which would be an import alternative of not less than two billion dollars.

Above all, the technology of using Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is available across the eastern and northern borders of country i-eIndiaandChina. Let me explain with one example. In the wee hours of Pervez Elahi government inPunjab, the SWM of Lahore was surveyed and it was transpired that Lahori are producing 8000 tones of MSW every day. At least 160 MW of power can be produced by using 1000 MW of SWM. So one can well imagine that how much electricity can be produced from this source only. While according to LESCO’s demand figure the overall demand of power of provincial metropolisLahoreis not more than 1600 MW. Similarly,Faisalabad,Gujranwala,Rawalpindi,Multanand Sahiwal are additional resources of SWM and electricity produced from their SWM can help cater their local needs. Moreover, organic fertilizer produced in this manner would also help to improve the decaying fertility of our lands. But nobody cares. The feasibility of this project has already been misplaced and put under the carpet by the bureaucracy.

So who is stopping our governments inPakistanfrom taking any step in any of the above mentioned directions? If they are not competent enough of delivering, they can at least get out of the way to let the private sector exploit any one of these resources to add more power and rescue this nation from the power crisis. But who care if bounty is not being produced for my own belly… Khadim e Aala Punjab must spare some moments to revisit these project or at least the SWM project which is the right of people of this country.

About Waseem Ahmad

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