LAHORE: It is no secret that Pakistan is in the grip of a serious energy crisis that is affecting all sectors of the economy and various segments of society. Luckily Pakistan is also blessed with many resources but the government has not focused on alternative energy to the extent that it should, so far.
For years, the matter of balancing Pakistan’s supply against the demand for electricity has remained a largely unresolved matter. And it is a separate issue that Pakistan faces a significant challenge in revamping its distribution network as well.
A lot of problems arise out of the fact that Pakistan’s energy infrastructure is neither well developed nor well managed. The mismanagement can be gauged from the fact that no serious efforts have been made to install new capacity generation in the past decade.
Recent environmental calamities and shifts have also led to a drop in generation from conventional means. During 2010 Pakistan floods and 2005 Kashmir earthquake power stations, power distribution and transmission and other energy infrastructure was damaged. During the floods the recently constructed Jinnah hydroelectric power plant was flooded.
There has also been some concern by Pakistani nuclear activists over the effect of natural disasters on nuclear plants especially over the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex, since it lies over a geological fault. Environmental impact of dams such as submergence of usable/ecological land and their negative impact on Pakistan’s mangrove forests due to loss of river silt load, as well as increased risk of severe floods have also become evident. This has increased the demand for the shift to alternative energy, even though significant investment will be needed to make the shift possible.
Pakistan must adopt other technologies for generating power from renewable energy sources, such as municipal waste and landfill methane geothermal recovery, anaerobic biomass gasification, biological fuels, fuel cells and ocean waves.
“Faith is like electricity. You can’t see it, but you can see the light.” So far in Pakistan, we can’t even see the light.
The writer is an environmentalist.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.