As soon the summer approaches as the electricity demand soars since domestic consumers switch on their fans/air conditioners to beat the heat. There is a need to devise ways and means to meet the electricity deficit which has soared up to 15 percent of the total peak demand of 19,000MW.
A permanent solution to the present energy crises lies in quantum addition in the generation capacity. This is probably easier said than done, since power generation projects are capital intensive and involve long gestation periods.
Despite recent additions to total generation there is little hope of respite from load-shedding because of the annual increase in demand. It would make sense therefore to use the available power prudently. A way has to be found to ensure that the wheels of industry and agriculture, which drive our economy, are provided electricity on priority with minimum disruption to the daily routine of the common man.
The present government has recently approved a plan to conserve energy, as part of short term measures to minimise the impact of shortage in power. In this connection, it was decided at the second energy conference to reintroduce five-day a week in all provinces, closure of shops by 8 pm, ban on use of air conditioners in government offices before 11 am, launching of an awareness campaign through the media to educate the masses on the utility of conservation, staggering of industrial holidays, induction of energy saver bulbs, banning of neon signs, and switching off alternate street lights. These measures are likely to result in saving of over 1,200 MW. The adage that a megawatt (MW) saved is better than a megawatt produced was the moving spirit behind the conservation plan.
All over the world businesses and shops close early therefore early closure of businesses and shops is critical to energy conservation, as this measure alone will save over 700MW. Bangladesh is also facing energy crisis, traders and shopkeepers there use a single bulb to light their businesses.
The success of the implementation of early closure of shops lies in the cooperation of traders and shopkeepers, they will have to set the trend of “open early and close early” and change the present culture in keeping with international practices.
Domestic and commercial consumers in the country consume over 9,000 MW of electricity, a sizeable chunk of the total peak demand of 19,000MW in summers. There is ample room for saving, if we change our lifestyles and discourage extravagant use of electricity. According to experts air conditioners and home appliances consume over 6,000 MWs of electricity.
Leaving lights and energy inefficient home appliances on even when they are not being used is a common practice. It is our energy-inefficient lifestyle that is in many ways responsible for the present energy crises.
We have to rise above our personal and vested interests to face this energy crisis through a collective national effort by changing our lifestyles. The nation has to clearly draw a line between necessities and luxuries.
The writer works in the PR department of PEPCO/NTDC.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.