ENERGY CRISIS-CASTING AROUND SOLUTIONS

PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Jan 16 - 22, 20
12

Energy crisis in Pakistan is not a new problem but it has been there since 2007. The gravity of this problem became extremely severe in 2011 because no attention was paid in the past to keep the energy generation in the line with the fast growing population in the country. Alternate Energy Resources and Future: Some experts are of the opinion that the world is heading fast towards energy crisis due to rapid depletion of cheap oil. Therefore, it is recommended that dependence on fossil fuel should be decreased to the least possible level. Following the recommendation, interest has been aroused in research and discovering of alternate of power/fuel like fuel cell technology, hydrogen fuel, biodiesel, process, solar energy, nitrogen energy and wind energy.

Only hydro-electricity and nuclear power have so far been used as alternate of fossil fuel due to which complicated ecological problems have been created. Hydrogen gas can be produced from natural gas with the net energy loss. If natural gas is not used for producing hydrogen gas, other source will be required. Therefore, hydrogen is not the energy but the carrier of energy. Experts have warned that the world oil reserves will completely end by the end of 21st century. A quarter million people as added daily to the world population due to which energy consumption is also increasing rapidly.

ENERGY CRISIS IN PAKISTAN

Energy resources at global level have exhausted. Whatever the energy resources available are highly expensive or have already been acquired by the countries in better positions. Energy resources, due to delayed efforts, could not be achieved in sizeable and required quantity in Pakistan. The countries, which have reserves of energy resources, are not prepared to provide it to the deficient countries. Only the old contracts are fulfilled now without entering in new contracts. All the means of transport like cars, buses, trucks, rails, and airplanes are becoming stagnant gradually. Many industries, due to insufficient or non-availability of energy, have been closed. Oil prices have crossed the limit. Alternate sources of energy like biogas, solar energy and other sources are used for survival at domestic level.

If the government of Pakistan plans for achieving the growth target say at six per cent, the energy requirements would become double than present and it would cross the figures 120 MTOE (million tons of oil equivalent) in 2015 and in 2030, it would be seven times more than present; 361 MTOE. Pakistan meets 80 per cent of its energy requirement through import.

On the other side, international prices of oil have not only broken the past records but touching new heights which, directly or indirectly are affecting the black gold industry badly. Moreover, the speculators estimate that the oil prices would reach to $100 per barrel very soon. With concerns over nuclear program of Iran, terrorist problem in Nigeria, and constant growing need of energy for maintaining the high growth rate of China and India, oil price hike is not expected to stop.

Wapda, for producing electricity, purchases oil at high price and shifts the financial burden on the consumers. When the governments purchase oil excessively, world prices of oil also increase due to high demand for oil. When the price of electricity increases, the entire economy becomes imbalanced. It is because the rising prices of daily life items decrease the real income of the people.

The basic reason of energy crisis in Pakistan is the irrational, short term and wrong policies of the government. The government is not capable to take necessary and important decisions at the right time. Moreover, corruption is also one of the important reasons of energy crisis.

Pakistan, apart from oil, should also develop and use the other resources of energy like atomic energy, search, and use of natural gas, import of natural gas, solar energy, coal and wind energy.

Energy crisis has declined the industrial production by 50 per cent due to which the rate of unemployment has been increased fast. This crisis has set damaging effects on the fixed income groups because the cost of goods and services increases rapidly.

Present energy crisis has proved that the government has no talents to tackle this problem.

This energy crisis becomes more severe in summer but the same happens this winter also. Three to four hours energy load shading, at the height of crisis, has become the rule of the day. The people who cannot afford generators and UPS have plunged in anguish. Prices of generators and UPS, due to their increased demand, have also gone very high and so both these goods have gone far from the reach of the masses.

The Chairman of Wapda admitted clearly on public forum three years back that Wapda did not have the capacity to meet the present demand for energy.

The people occupying the strategic and high positions in the government and referring day and night the industrial growth of Pakistan also could not realize the gravity of the problem.

General (R) Pervez Musharraf, after having been the President of Pakistan, in most of the public meetings used to talk about the dams and especially Kala Bagh Dam but the promise of this dam also went unfulfilled like his other high sounding promises.

During the second term of Benzir Bhutto, some power plants were completed and if these plants would have not been set, the economy of Pakistan could have been stagnant. The producers and the business people, fed up with constant energy load shading, have installed their own generators due to which the cost of their products and services have increased which have expedited the pace of inflation in the country.

The policymakers constantly stress upon the construction of dams and setting atomic energy plants but they have terribly failed to understand the open secret that the use of other energy resources like solar energy and windmill energy can also reduce the gravity of the energy crisis.

Pakistan is a lucky country because sun shines almost whole of the year in all its cities. Similarly, wind energy is abundantly available at its coastal areas. If these natural resources are used seriously, the demand supply gap of energy can be bridged up to a great extent.

What role is played by the government of Pakistan for guaranteeing sustainable economic growth of the economy? What strategic steps have been taken for getting energy in future? Is the private sector willing to invest in the oil industry? What incentives have been offered to the foreigners to invest in energy exploration? What impediments are there for the experts from advanced countries to come to Pakistan? Are Pakistanis being robbed by the energy giants in the form of ever increasing utility bills? What should be the real price of petrol and petroleum products? When the nation will get electricity round the clock? Are we able to sign long-term stable contracts of supply of energy resources with other countries? Have we lost the race of energy resources for our future survival?

The government should cast around answers for these questions before the time is over.