DOLLAR HUNDRED A BARREL — THE CHALLENGES AHEAD.
(Survival hinges on a major break through on the front of alternate energy sources)
SHAMSUL GHANI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dec 03 - 09, 2007
TIME TO WAKE UP
We produce about 20 per cent of our oil requirement. In the back drop of failing efforts to find new reserves and a lavish style of consumption, this percentage is likely to fall during the coming years resulting in quantitative pressures. The rising prices of oil will subject us to monetary pressures. This vicious combine will put our economy in complete disarray. Domestic inflation together with the imported inflation will derail the post 9/11 recovery process. It is time about we took cognizance of the perilous situation. We can survive only for a shorter period by consuming more than what we actually produce. Natural gas reserves, the mainstay of our energy consumption, are also depleting fast. The swiftly changing geo political scenario has made the availability of gas from Iran or Caspian countries a doubtful proposition. We can hardly sit back praying for the OPEC to dramatically ease the supply position so as to bring the oil prices back to $40 level. These are not the times to dream but to wake up.
The required measures mainly pertain to two areas namely administration and production. The administrative measures should take care of the consumption side while productive measures should focus on tapping of alternate energy sources.
Our transport policy is crying for a complete overhaul since long. The new policy deign should objectively target the goal of lowering oil consumption by discouraging the use of private vehicles after developing swift and efficient mass transit systems through out the country.
ALTERNATE ENERGY SOURCES:
On the front of energy production, certain government organizations are actively involved with the assigned tasks.
PCRET (Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies ) is one such organization based on R&D techniques. The research and development work carried out by this organization has resulted in provision of renewable energy to the remote rural and hilly areas of the country. Based on this technology, various devices and appliances for small scale power generation have been developed. The focus of this government organization is on a number of renewable energy sources namely solar energy, biomass energy, biogas energy, wind energy etc. Renewable energy is a good alternative to fossil fuel as it is more environment friendly with a low level of green house gas emission.
The need, however, remains to achieve major break through in the areas of hydel power, coal based energy and nuclear energy. Most of the developed nations meet their energy requirement through nuclear sources. In our case, perhaps the prohibitive cost factor and slow rate of capacity enhancement process are the stumbling blocks. This turns our attention to the more realistically viable sources of energy namely hydel power and coal based energy.
PPIB (Private Power & Infrastructure Board), established in 1994, is a one window facility provider to the private investors in the field of energy. Presently it is processing 62 projects with a cumulative capacity of 16,790 MW out of which 21 projects with a cumulative capacity of 5138 MW are hydel. These environment friendly projects are to be located in NWFP and AJK. By 2010, PPIB expects to commission 13 projects with a cumulative capacity of 2575 MW.
COAL, A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF ENERGY
World Wildlife Fund has recently reported that coal power plants will remain central to the world energy supply if they could control the emissions to an acceptable limit. The report further said that the world energy requirement will be doubled by 2050, yet a 20 per cent contribution from coal based energy could be expected. What is required of the governments is the development of clean coal technologies so as to capture the carbon dioxide.
The product mix of India's energy production is a testimony to the dominant role of coal based energy. India's 65 per cent energy production comes from coal, 25 per cent from hydel, 7 per cent from renewable sources and 3 per cent from nuclear sources.
OUR COAL RESERVES AND PROJECTS UNDER IMPLEMENTATION
About 185 billion tons of coal deposits have been found out of which 184 billion tons are located in Sindh mainly at Thar. The other areas with lesser quantities of deposits are Lakhra, Thatta Sonda and Jhimpir.
Coal based energy projects require mining facilities and supporting infrastructure. Currently four such projects with a cumulative capacity of 1550 MW are being processed by PPIB. Three of these projects with a cumulative capacity of 550 MW are located at Ghotki, Jherruk Sonda and Lakhra. The fourth project with a capacity of 1000 MW is located at Thar. In addition to that, two projects based on imported coal with a capacity of 1000 MW each will be located near Karachi.
NATIONAL POLICY DESIGN
In view of the energy crisis and rocketing prices of oil, we need to work with a sense of urgency and conclude at the earliest the coal policy formulation process. Activities at Thar should be accelerated to complete the infrastructure within the scheduled time.. The expressions of interest invited for the consultancy services should be professionally vetted. The area of selection of technology should be of prime concern. Only clean coal technologies should be considered to forestall raising of any environmental issues in neglect of international standards. The question of tariff should be handled with finesse keeping in view the viability on one hand and national interest on the other. The most sensitive node of the policy shall be the royalty issue. Lessons from Balauchistan on the issue of gas royalty should guide us to evolve a just and equitable formula.