Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Solutions – Part Two

In part one of this three part series, root causes of the ongoing energy crisis were discussed. However, only highlighting these problems is not enough. If the crisis is to be resolved, certain measures need to be taken. In this part and the next, some viable solutions to better the situation will be discussed.

Thankfully, some sections in the society are aware of the magnanimity of this dire problem. The RPPs are expected to start working soon and the subsidies in the energy sector are still cushioning at least a part of the blow. But the real issue is of determining priorities and extracting maximum results even from this bleak scenario.

Keeping this in view, the first policy of the government should be to ensure uninterrupted supply of power to the industrial units, small or big, especially in industrial cities like Faisalabad, Gujaranwala. Also the power supply should be continuous for small local businesses throughout the country.

Even if it equates to the continuation of the domestic shortage for a while, at least half of the RPPs should be employed for the industrial section. In addition, there are some non-operating power stations in the country which only require a little investment and technical improvements to revive them. Such power units should be made effective to pull the economy out of complete doom.

Secondly, the markets and shopping centers should be strictly enforced to close their business till 10 pm at night. This saving of power can be diverted towards the domestic consumers by means of an effective administrative local system.

The media and provincial governments would be of utmost importance in this strategy. The media specially, can acquire public support and educate masses in this regard. Resultantly, they will be able to remove the trust deficit between the government and the people.

The main focus should be on the revival of those dead power generation units in Sindh and Punjab which can be made functional again and the systematic up-gradation of thermal and hydroelectric plants.

Resultantly, these projects will maintain the smooth flow of energy and will at least prevent any further widening in the demand-supply gap.

Similarly, the replacement of transmission lines to reduce losses should fall under the auspices of the provincial governments and ministries with proper allocation of budget from the center. The replacement of expired transmission systems is long overdue. This process must be gradual and systematic to refrain from becoming a drain on the resources and it should be initiated from areas most severely hit by energy shortage.

After curbing and curing the internal ills, the attention should be diverted to exploration of new fossil fuel reserves (natural gas). As the thermally generated supply accounts for the major share of power in Pakistan, it should be dealt with effectively.

Contrary to the deficit of oil reserves, the coal reserves in Pakistan are the second largest in the world. But the delay in switching from indigenous energy sources to coal is due to the snail paced progress in the Thar Coal Project that is in collaboration with China.

China’ rocketing economy has driven coal industry into a new era of efficient utilization. Pakistan should take heed from China’s example and should gain technical assistance from it. Both countries can collaborate in Gwadar and Thar to explore and exploit new gas and coal reserves.

The IRAN-PAKISTAN-INDIA (IPI) pipeline is most plausible solution presently. It is at an efficiently advanced stage of implementation but has fallen prey to the disagreement in pricing formulas and trust deficit between India and Pakistan.

Both the Thar coal and IPI project require tactful diplomatic maneuvering and improving ties with India. An agreement between the two countries on IPI will enhance the prospects of resolving the water issue as well.

Another aspect of solving this problem is the utilization of alternate and renewable resources of energy. It has been adopted by many developing and developed countries of the country to avert this crisis, such as Brazil, India, U.S., Holland etc. Pakistan however, lags far behind in this regard.

The long term goals will be discussed in the final issue.