Energy crisis in the developing countries is not a new phenomenon. Few decades back most of Pakistan was engulfed in the darkness and electricity was attributed to only urban cities. Even then, the notion of load shedding was very common with nation receiving a temporarily relieve in mid 90s courtesy of (then very expensive) power plants.
These power plants were operated by the fossil fuels, initial by diesel and later by gas. While the nation was familiar to the electricity load shedding, the concept of gas load shedding never came to the mind of the average Pakistan, until for last 3-4 years.
What happened in between, that suddenly a fossil fuel like Natural Gas, which was considered abundant suddenly, became scarce? There are many answers to this question, which ranges from the depletion of the reservoirs to the growth of consumption of gap. Nevertheless, the fundamental issue lies in the irrational and illogical thinking part of the policy and decision makers. One can name it as corruption, but fact remains that the flaw occurred in the minds of the policy and decision makers, which has resulted in over burning of the gas, that ultimately has lead to the premature depletion of the gas reservoirs and an unprecedented growth in the consumption of gas in the country.
For most part of our history, Natural Gas was considered as a cheap commodity and its main consumption was for the domestic purposes only. Industrially, the fertilizers producing units mostly used it, and textile sector also getting a fair share. Later with the increase in the demand of the Electricity and the subsequent favouring of a particular civilian set up for the installation of the power plants, the investors invested their money in the power sector by setting up the combined cycle gas power plant.
As the Natural Gas was cheap, the investor saw it as a lucrative deal to burn the gas to run their combined cycle power plants to produce the electricity. Well, for them it is always about the expense incurred and the profit earned, while on the other hand, the duty of the government was to take the decision in the best interest of the masses and after exploring multiple factor, but they considered none.
Those who approved such plants committed a crime against the future generation of the Pakistan, as they turned their eyes from the fundamental issues with respect to the gas fired combined cycle plants, which amongst others also includes the technology used in the plant and the amount of gas wasted to produce one unit of electricity. Besides this, they ignored the overall increase in the consumption of the gas and its effect on the natural gas supply and demand.
Additionally, with the absence of will and effort to build any new big hydro-powered, governments considered gas powered turbines as a viable option to meet the country’s electricity requirement. Over the period, due to increase in the prices of the diesel, the diesel power-generating units were converted into the natural gas.
The matter simply does not end there, as the policy and decision makers for their personal benefits have never tried to initiate/implement the alternative energy resources on ground. In the prevailing circumstances, the most economically, socially and environmentally feasible option to address to the electricity shortage in the short term was the installation of the wind turbines to generate the electricity. According to a recent study, certain areas in Sind have the potential to produced 10,000 MW of electricity, generated by wind turbines. However, different interest groups have again created hurdles in initiation of the project.
Unfortunately, this does not happen, as the policy makers now find themselves in the dilemma to either keep the light switch on or keep the stove’s burner burning. Even more disappointing is the fact that the remedial measures taken are still 1) reactive and 2) depict the short sightedness of the high ups.
One wonders how many years, will they take to correct their approach to their decision and policymaking. However, the fact remains that the cost of their incompetence will be paid by the masses and the future generation and more importantly, we will leave them with a ruined Pakistan, instead of a blessed Pakistan.