EXPLOITING RENEWABLE ENERGY THE NEED OF THE HOUR
Dec 12 - 18, 2011
Currently, Pakistan is snarled up with a severe energy crisis, rising fuel prices, and electricity shortages, affecting the country as a whole.
The rising cost of imported oil and gas needed to power generators has crippled the country's power sector.
While demand for power is growing at about seven to eight percent per year, the country's own production of oil and gas is declining.
With domestic production of oil and gas is facing decline, the government needs to rely on imported fuel, seeking other alternative energy sources and improving its own generation.
Keeping in view future needs, the government has set a target of generating 9,700MW through renewable energy by 2030. Under the solar rural electrification program, over 7,800 remote villages will be electrified using solar home systems. The government has also announced that 30 million energy saver bulbs will be distributed free of cost throughout the country with the financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank.
The geological survey of Pakistan has launched a project to explore coal and copper deposits in Balochistan. Efforts are also afoot to explore Thar coal reserves, which are estimated to meet the country's 100-year energy-related needs.
The government has also reduced imported fuel oil consumption with indigenous gas by optimally balancing the gas availability and supplies from local and imported resources.
A major success of the government has been the signing of the intergovernmental framework declaration, the gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA), and subsidiary agreements on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
IMPROVING GENERATION VIA THERMAL PROJECTS
The government started addressing the power crisis by firming up the public sector power generation enhancement plan (2010-15) to add 10,000MW generation capacity in the system. Moreover, the government has expedited work on 525MW Chichoki Malian power project and 425MW Nandipur power project.
Similarly, negotiations and signing of contract for 747MW Guddu combined cycle power plant have been completed. The government has also started implementation of long-stalled IPPs projects.
IMPROVING GENERATION VIA HYDEL PROJECTS
Pakistan has so far tapped only 6,700MW out of its total hydel potential of more than 50,000MW. The government has initiated work on Neelum-Jhelum hydro power project and Basha Diamer Dam, which would generate 4500MW power and store 6.4 acre feet of water.
The government has also planned to construct 32 small and medium dams (eight in each province) at a cost of about Rs250 billion ($2.9 billion). The water storage capacity of these dams would be around 6-7 million acre feet.
Official sources told Page that despite all the odds, the present government had added 3,000 megawatt of electricity to the national grid, which was not done by previous governments in the last one and a half decade.
According to them, the government, despite resource constraints initiated short, medium, and long-term power projects to end the energy crisis.
The country has been facing the energy crisis since 1993. However, the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto had realized the gravity of situation and initiated projects of independent power producers which were criticized strongly by some elements. After her government, the cases were registered against the IPPs and investors were put in jails which discouraged foreign investments in Pakistan.
The sources claimed the government was also working on projects of importing power and gas from Iran. It is to the PPP government's credit to evolve a consensus on the construction of the Diamir-Bhasha dam and initiation of Thar coal projects at the council of common interest.
The sources also claimed that the government has started a number of new projects for power generation and irrigation purposes, which are under construction to resolve the power and water shortage in the country.
Out of these projects, prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani laid the foundation stone for the construction work on country's first ever largest multi-purpose Diamer Bhasha Dam, which is the first ever major hydropower project after Mangla Dam built in 1967 and Tarbela Dam in 1974.
According to them, the Diamer Bhasha dam with a height of 272 meters will be built on Indus river, about 300 kilometers upstream of Tarbela Dam. Diamer Bhasha Dam will have the capacity to produce 4,500 MW of electricity and store 8.1 million acre feet of water and will be completed in eight years at an estimated cost of 12 billion dollars.
This dam will generate electricity worth about two billion dollars per year and recover its cost in about seven years. It will be the highest roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam in the world.
It may be noted that the Diamer Bhasha dam project was approved by the council of common interest on 18 July 2010 and the government initially provided Rs5 billion for land acquisition to the government of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Another Rs18 billion will also be provided this year in this regard so that the construction work could be going on without any hurdle. Mangla dam raising project in AJK will provide additional water storage of 2.88 million acre feet (MAF) of additional water storage and 644 Gwh of additional hydel generation. The other project is Gomal Zam Dam in FATA and KPK with storage of 1.14maf and power generation of 17 MW. Another project Khan Khwar in KPK will generate 72MW of electricity while another project being completed this year is Allai Khwar in KPK that will generate 121MW electricity. Other important project being completed during 2011-12 by the present government is the first phase of command area of greater Thal canal in the Punjab that will provide water for irrigation to 350,000 acre of land.
Another important project, in Gilgit Baltistan being completed this year, is Satpara Dam that will store 0.093maf of water and produce 17MW of electricity.
Jinnah Dam project with 96MW of power generation in the Punjab and Buner Khwar in KPK to generate 130MW of power generation will also be completed during 2011-12.
Some other ten important projects for power generation are under construction and will be completed within next few years. These projects are Neelam Jhelum (AJK) with power generation of 969MW, Tarbela 4th Extension in KPK for power generation of 1410MW, Golden Gol in KPK for power generation of 106MW, Jabban Power House in KPK for generation of 22MW, Kachi Canal in Balochistan for irrigation of 713,000 acres of land, and Rainee Canal in Sindh for irrigation of 412,000 acres of land. Other small and medium dam projects under construction are Darwar, Nai Gaj, Naulong and Ghabir.
What is needed is to adopt short-term and long-term planning to overcome power shortages, which are hitting hard to the trade, industry, and public.