PAKISTAN REQUIRES TIMELY DECISIONS TO OVERCOME ENERGY CRISIS

Mega dams vital for sustainable economic growth

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Nov 06 - 12, 2006

Faced with the burgeoning energy requirements Pakistan is currently looking at the future scenario as a great challenge. It has to grapple the issue without any further loss of time and take timely decisions.

These pertain to building mega dams, restructuring its antiquated distribution system and above all the most important issue of energy pricing to bale out WAPDA from its huge losses it claims to be incurring due to rising oil prices. An indicator of this apparent critical situation was available from the SOS raised by WAPDA Chairman while appearing before a National Assembly Standing Committee last week.

He made a strong plea for raising power tariff urgently to rescue WAPDA from its impending doom. Chairman Tariq Hameed, who is to retire in a fortnight time and likely to be retained, said that the authority could not sustain the rising financial burden of high oil prices and would have to increase the tariff within a few days if the current oil prices remain unchanged. He said the independent power producers (IPPs) purchased fuel from Pakistan State Oil directly. Wapda purchased electricity from the IPPs at the rate of Rs 7 to 9 per unit which was subsequently supplied to consumers on subsidised rates. He said that the policy regarding the IPPs had not been changed for the last three years. The Wapda chief said the authority had been able to reduce transmission and distribution losses by seven percent. The Wapda chairman said the authority could not supply electricity to the villages having less than 10 houses. He advised such consumers to get their connection charges refunded as it would be impossible for Wapda to supply them electricity due to high cost of setting up transmission infrastructure.

During the meeting, Saeedul Zafar, Chairman National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), called for implementing the Power Sector Reforms, 1994. "We can sort out our problems this way," the NEPRA chief told the meeting. He said NEPRA was reviewing the complaints lodged by the consumers. A host of foreign power companies wanted to invest in the power sector in Pakistan, he added.

The Chief Executive of the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation (KESC) voiced protest over what he described non-cooperative attitude of the government. "Why are we being meted out step-motherly treatment," he questioned the committee. "We want to be made a part of power distribution companies," he said. The committee decided that a meeting of the sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Water & Power would be held shortly to discuss matters relating to KESC as its sub-committee had been constituted.

Pakistan is among one of the countries of the world where the largest contiguous grid system is operative. Connecting the load centers with the powerhouses, the transmission system dots the entire country. Pakistan inherited 60 Mu power generation capability for a population of 31.5 million when it became an independent state on 14th August, 1947. Only two small power stations, one hydel at Malakand in NWFP and one thermal near Lahore in the Punjab province were in existence within its geographical boundaries. Bulk of the supply was arranged from India's Uhl River scheme. For the first 12 years, the power generation, transmission and distribution systems remained the domain of the provincial power departments. A few independent companies were, of course, operating here and there in isolation. Feeling the need, the Water and Power Development Authority was created in the beginning of year 1958 for pooling water and power resources of the country. This was deemed essential in view of the water resource and hydroelectric power potential available in abundance.

GENERATION EXPANSION PLAN (2005-2015)

FISCAL YEAR

NAME OF PROJECT

INSTALLED CAPACITY
(MW)

CAPACITY ADDED DURING THE YEAR (MW)

TOTAL INSTALLED CAPACITY
(MW)

2005/06

Existing System

 

 

17350

2006-07

Thermal Projects

230

230

17580

2007/08

Hydro Projects

81

81

17661

2008/09

Hydro Projects

498

3891

21552

 

Thermal Projects

3393

 

 

2009/10

Hydro Projects

238

3153

24705

 

Thermal Projects

2915

 

 

2010-11

Hydro Projects

394

1319

26024

 

Thermal Projects

925

 

 

2011/12

Hydro Projects

1100

2100

28124

 

Thermal Projects

1000

 

 

2012/13

Hydro Projects

1973

2523

30647

 

Thermal Projects

550

 

 

2013/14

Hydro Projects

1621

2221

32868

 

Thermal Projects

600

 

 

2014/15

Hydro Projects

2010

2610

35478

 

Thermal Projects

600

 

 

Source: WAPDA

One of the main objectives of its creation was to set the wheel of progress and development free from the clutches and constraints of the bureaucratic set ups. The retail part role of a utility was later on assigned to it through an amendment in the WAPDA Act in March, 1959. In transfer from the provinces, it gained 119 Mu of hydroelectric and thermal small and medium power stations. Along with came to it around 7,000 kilometers of power disbursement infrastructure and 300,000 customers. A little over 500 villages were by then facilitated with the supply at their doorstep. The energy production quantum at that time was nearly 780 million kwh and sales were of the order of 740 million kwh. The revenue generation from sale of power was marginally above Rs. 70 million. The country had entered the phase of development by that time. A dependable and sound infrastructure was, therefore, the requirement of the day. Being lifeline of a nation, electricity was a key component. WAPDA rose to the occasion and treaded on the road of development and progress. The journey goes on and it has by now accomplished numerous hydroelectric and thermal power generation projects, matching transportation network and distribution system to cater to the needs of the end consumers.

Sustaining the load of the rapidly growing demand of electricity in the country always remained the hall-mark. The impact of the professional approach to find the solution to multi-farious problems did not take long to show. Within five years of its becoming operational, the electricity generation capability rose to 636 Mu and the energy production shot up to 2,500 million kilowatt hours (MkWh) from 781 MkWh (units) in 1959. Similarly, the number of customers increased from 2,78,000 to 6,88,000. Only 609 villages had been provided with the electricity facility by 1959. The number had increased to 1,882 in 1965. The rapid progress infused a new life into the social, industrial and agricultural sectors. Subsequently, mechanized farming took birth, industrialization picked up and living standard of the common man improved.

INVESTMENT IN LEADING SECTORS:

SECTOR

MILLION $

% AGE

Communication (IT&T)

88.2

23.5

Financial Business

65.5

17.4

Oil & Gas Exploration

52.8

14.1

Trade

41.4

11.0

Power

35.5

9.5

Personal Services

11.0

2.9

Others

81.0

21.6

Total

375.4

100.0

The private sector inducted in the power system of Pakistan in the year 1974 continues to play its role. More of the private thermal power plants are in the construction phase in addition to 16 plants already operating with an aggregate generating capacity of 61 08 MW. At present, the total generation capacity from hydroelectric and thermal sources of WAPDA plus that of the independent power procedures linked to its system stands at 17,350MW.

Matching transmission lines, up to the capacity of 500 KV and the distribution system, dotting the length and breadth of the country was also managed which is now providing the facility of electricity to about 15 million customers in all the socio-economic sectors. The facility has already been extended at the doorstep of 90,489 villages where majority of the country's population resides.

Power generation: The total installed hydroelectric power capacity of the WAPDA system from 14 stations is 6,463.16 MW. These power stations produced 25,168.204 million units (MkWhs) of electrical energy during the year 2004-05. The thermal power stations operating under the WAPDA generation companies, having 4,779 MW installed capacity and 3,955 MW rated capacity, produced 22.186 billion kWh of energy during year.

WAPDA's thermal power plants: The WAPDA thermal power generation facilities have been restructured into limited companies, called GENCOs, as per the government policy. These companies are: Jamshoro Power Company (GENCO-I), Central Power Generation Company (GENCO-II), Northern Power Generation Company (GENCOIII) and Lakhra Power Generation Company (GENCO-IV), set up under the Companies Ordinance-1984.

Installed capacity of GENCa Mu is 4,779 MW with present capability of 3,955. Deration in the installed capacity is due to the aging factor. Installed capacity of GENCa- I, II, III and IV is 1,024, 1,690, 1,915 and 150 MW and their present capability is 825, 1,377, 1,715 and 38 MW, respectively. WAPDA has revived its old thermal power stations at Shahdara and Quetta during financial year 2003-04.

WAPDAís thermal power generation performance witnessed improvement during the year due to proper management and timely maintenance and overhauling of the plants. The major overhauling of 6 thermal units was completed during the year, besides annual inspection of 20 units was carried out. The plants produced 22 billion and 186 million units (kWhs) of electrical energy during the year. The plant availability factor remained 82.8 percent and utilization 62.6 percent.