The recurring energy crises in Pakistan have consistently pointed out to the stringent need of conserving its scarce energy sources. One of the main reasons of energy shortfall is the careless attitude of the people to conserve energy thereby making sure that their needs are met satisfactorily. Unfortunately, this preventive aspect has not been given due national importance with the result that most Pakistanis suffer from rampant shortage of energy all year round.
Pakistan is strategically well-placed but is also one of the most populous countries of South Asian region. Owing to disinterested policies the country has been suffering from energy crisis for the last three to four decades. Currently, the country faces many challenges due to energy crisis which directly or indirectly creates many difficulties hampering mitigating the serious consequences encountered by national development.
Pakistan produces about 81% of its electricity through oil and gas which costs about $9.4billion. Over the years, the national necessity on thermal power has grown so stringent that it is not immediately feasible to swiftly move to hydro power. The only option is to lessen national dependence on thermal power and instead of using oil and gas, both of which are getting more expensive and have volatile international prices, a shift towards coal is undertaken.
Thar coal is an important asset for producing power at very reasonable expenses. Energy mix refers to sources of energy utilised in Pakistan to fulfill overall energy needs. In Pakistan, one problem that often plagues progress globally is the slow translation of research into practice. The rampant lack of research has more or less closed the doors on innovation and there are hardly any efforts witnessed to devise alternate methods of producing energy.
Pakistan has a deficit of fossils or hydrocarbons sources of energy and to cover up the deficit, it depends upon importing crude oil at an enormous cost from its meagre foreign exchange reserves. The need of crude oil is on an increase because of improved lifestyle which has necessitated the use of vehicles for transportation. Thermal power is mostly produced by burning either natural gas or imported oil. The energy market has been changing according to the demands of power consumption.
Pakistan has a serious energy crisis that has affected all sectors of the economy and the various segments of society. A change of attitude and a change of lifestyle is needed at national level which could be triggered by the ruling elite and followed by social cadres. The prices of energy raw materials also keep on changing further aggravating problems. In addition, poor management, lopsided priorities and lack of accountability of personnel associated with this important national activity keeps on adding to difficulties.
It is very well acknowledged that there are no immediate solutions to generating additional power through any source because a unit takes at least two to three years to establish sufficiently. More than five years are required to construct a hydroelectric dam and the investment is enormous. Energy conservation or efficient use of electricity is what is needed at this crucial time to face energy shortfall and to keep national development on an even keel.
Energy consumption is an important component in growth, directly or indirectly as complement to capital and labour as input factors of production. Policymakers will have to take into account the feedback effect of economic growth on energy consumption by implementing regulations to reduce energy use. In addition, economic growth should be decoupled from energy consumption to avoid adverse effect on economic growth resulting from a reduction of energy policy. In Pakistan, there are no alternate resources of thermal power currently therefore it is essential to use such energy prudently.
It is clear that there are three major users of electricity and they need to be educated and motivated to play their role in energy conservation. The three stakeholders are industrial sector, transport sector and domestic/household sector. Each sector needs to be dealt separately to highlight the efficacy of conserving energy. It is essential to ensure that these sectors undertake necessary measures to conserve energy.
Pakistan uses expensive ways for production of electricity. Due to load shedding, the daily wage worker remains unemployed and his living standard goes down. Pakistani exporters usually fail to complete assignment in time due to energy deficiency. Annual line rent losses exceed every year creating an alarming situation for the country. No foreign investor has agreed to invest money in the power sector due to the unstable situation in Pakistan.
It is important that the agencies dealing with energy should take radical steps to improve the power sector. It should focus on attracting foreign investors to work and invest in the energy sector of Pakistan and invest money in wind energy to generate electricity. The factories that have their own power plants to generate electricity should be permitted to provide electricity to consumers and collect bills from them. In urban areas, the markets should close after 8pm. One way of reducing dependence on thermal produced electricity is to widen solar energy aspect that produce cheap energy. TW
Dr. Fahd Ali is a medical practitioner in the US and is very active socially