The solution to Pakistan’s energy crisis

Published: July 5, 2011
The writer is a financial adviser and chartered accountant at Industrial Alliance Securities Inc in Toronto

The writer is a financial adviser and chartered accountant at Industrial Alliance Securities Inc in Toronto

The power crisis is getting worse and various short-term solutions being offered are not the answer. Wapda’s chairman’s assessment that the power shortage will last until 2018 is optimistic when the increase in demand over the next seven years is factored in.

The power shortage is harmful to the country’s economy and it is pulling down Pakistan’s GDP growth. The funds spent on import of power generators and their fuel is an enormous drain on the economy. Larger industries can afford power generators, but small/medium enterprise, which are any nation’s primary growth engine, cannot. We need a solution to take care of Pakistan’s power requirements for the next 20 years. Expensive import-based, oil-run power generation is not the answer. These have already increased Pakistan’s fuel import bill. Gas based projects are also not the answer as the country’s gas supply is limited.

A possible home-grown, energy solution, based on wind and solar energy, can be used. Many countries in the world have implemented alternative energy programmes. Spain is already producing 73 per cent of its power needs from wind and solar energy. Though technology is still evolving for solar energy, a more immediate solution is wind energy. The Karachi to Gwadar coastline has enormous potential for generating wind energy. Wind towers can generate between 7,000 to 10,000 MW of electricity. There will be certain challenges to accomplish this, but all the solutions are within Pakistan’s grasp and we need not depend on foreign assistance.

The main challenges are production and availability of wind turbines, safety and security of turbines, transmission lines to feed the national grid, capital cost of the project and long-term maintainability of the project. India has started producing wind turbines domestically. It is not rocket science and Pakistani scientists can master this technology if mandated by the government. If our scientists can produce a nuclear weapon, they can produce wind turbines. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission should be entrusted to design and build these turbines. The facilities at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, Heavy Mechanical Complex and Karachi Shipyard can also be used. Once domestic needs are met, Pakistan could become a major exporter of wind turbines.

The solution for safeguarding wind turbines is to offer free electricity to those villages in Balochistan where wind turbines are installed. In return, villagers should be asked to ensure the safety of these turbines. The power consumption of these villages is likely to be minimal and this could also pacify the Baloch populace. Internationally, a five MW wind turbine costs around five million dollars. Pakistan should be able to produce these considerably cheaply, possibly at less than one million dollars. Wind turbines usually have a long life and as long as rotating parts are changed upon reaching their maximum life, wind turbines can last 50 years. Also, as wind turbines require no fuel, there is no running cost other than maintenance cost. With low initial and minimal running costs, electricity can be procured at a considerably lower price, avoiding the need to increase power rates frequently.

If Pakistan is to develop at a faster pace to attain a seven to eight per cent GDP growth, then it is imperative to address its energy needs. Pakistan is currently short by between 3,000 to 5,000 MW and if a major plan of action is not put into place now, the shortage is likely to be around 20,000 MW within 10 years. Wind energy is a fast and cheap solution. This programme should be given the same priority as Pakistan’s nuclear programme was once accorded.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Jul 5, 2011 - 9:17PM

    Pakistan is currently short by between
    3,000 to 5,000 MW and if a major plan
    of action is not put into place now,
    the shortage is likely to be around
    20,000 MW within 10 years. Wind energy
    is a fast and cheap solution. This
    programme should be given the same
    priority as Pakistan’s nuclear
    programme was once accorded.

    It is indeed the power requirements of the nuclear program that are in part responsible for the power shortages; it takes a lot of electricity to perform isotope separation on a large scale. Pakistan has been increasing its nuclear weapons production greatly in the past few years, hence the power “shortage.” Presumably any increase in generating capacity will be applied to the nuclear program, not the relief of Pakistani citizens.Recommend

  • Jul 5, 2011 - 9:26PM

    Well said. However, what is annoying is how so many short term measures could have been taken to avert the worst possible outcomes. $5 million should produce 5MW of electricity, but given line losses, between 10%-40% depending on where you live in the country, actual usable power supply is much less. The government has spent 100s of billions of rupees on subsidizing the price of electricity. Even if a fraction of that was used to encourage energy conservation, improving insulation in homes and offices, implementing bylaws where architectural designs incorporated energy efficiency, improve the quality or mandate the improvement in the quality of locally produced electrical goods, we would have come a long way in managing demand. Instead, split AC after split AC is being installed in homes, with gaps in windows and poor insulation compounding the problem. Recommend

  • Jul 5, 2011 - 9:42PM

    Solomon2: I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. The power shortage has got nothing to do with the nuclear program or producing nuclear weapons. The main reason for the power shortage in Pakistan is electricity theft. There are people in this country who have never paid for electricity in their lives. The first thing to do is to disconnect power supply to those localities where there is rampant electricity theft. The second is to lay underground cables to prevent thieves from using hooks to steal electricity. The third is to punish the power thieves, irrespective of who they are. The fourth is to train people to conserve electricity.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 5, 2011 - 9:42PM

    Another stupid act from the powers that rule this god forsaken country !!
    Its the people who suffer most, due to short term views of those in power !!
    I sincerely hope that the mighty Army & whichever Govt that is in charge will be able to feed its population in next five years on their Nuclear Programs as there is likely to be zero level Aid coming in to the country due to their policies and inaction in regards to every spectre of society, may it be education, law & order, security or social services !!!!Recommend

  • k. khan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:04PM

    Mastering wind turbine technology will take time. Why Pakistan can’t jointly built comercial trubines with Xinjiang Goldwind, they are the largest producer of Wind turbine in China. It supplies to 80% of their market. Recommend

  • Shahid Saeed
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:10PM

    Express Tribune would do good with some fact-checking, even if it is the oped pages (b/c you wouldn’t allow someone to say utterly fallacious statements would you?). Spain produces ~19.1% of it’s electricity from wind and solar, nowhere near the 73% cited here. In fact, no country in the world produces such a ludicrous percentage of their energy demand from wind and solar combined. The most clean ones (wind and solar only, no nuclear or cogen) are on and about 25%.

    Internationally, a five MW wind turbine costs around five million dollars. Pakistan should be able to produce these considerably cheaply, possibly at less than one million dollars.

    How did the author reach this conclusion? We are talking about a wind turbine, not mud-brick labour. We don’t get fiber glass and composites at a lower price than the world or perhaps you are assuming some magical five time cost reduction in fields our industry is nascent in. Perhaps China will give us free wind turbine generators too.

    How did you reach the conclusion of “low initial” cost? The 56.4 MW Zorlu Wind Power Project in Jhampir had a cost of $161.8 million ($2.86 million/MW or $14.34 million/5MW – more than double than $7 million “internationally” one cited by the author). Tariff of Rs 12.7743/KWh.

    Similarly, the 49.5 MW, Three Gorges First Wind Pakistan project has a cost of $134.74 million ($2.72 million/MW or $13.6 million/5MW) and a tariff of Rs 12.51/KWh petitioned to NEPRA. Tariffs more or less comparable to what IPPs and most RPPs are charging. Of course, we need wind to enter our energy mix in large numbers because it has a near negligible environmental footprint and we can expand our own wind industry, like Suzlon in India, and we should focus on nuclear power too, having produced so many bombs and yet unable to rely on nuclear power like Germany and Japan (provided we arrange for a safe nuclear waste disposal site).

    Wind Farms sounds all cool and hip, they are expensive and should be included in our energy mix according to our economic capacity. Furnace oil power plants are not the answer but so aren’t fallacious and very misguided opeds on the energy crisis. Better get an industry professional to comment on these matters. They’ll have the figures right at least.Recommend

  • Balma
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:24PM

    We should consider the root cause of this porblem: popualtion explosion.
    No amount of investment in energy resources can beat the population growth rate of Pakistan.
    We need one child policty for Pakistan for the next thirty years. How is it that Bangladesh has less population than Pakistan now when just thirty years ago East Paksitan had more population than West Pakistan?Recommend

  • Suresh
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:52PM

    The title is misleading. The article offers no solution to the energy crisis, but only speaks about self sufficiency in Wind Turbine technology. It seems to me that the author has some vested interest in this sector.

    First of all assuming existence of “solution” for energy crisis anywhere in the world is unrealistic, that too in Pakistan, and by means of Wind Turbine alone. Self sufficiency in WT has not solved India’s energy problem. India also has other alternative energy source such as solar and bio mass energy. Still situation it is no where near to be said “solved”. Solution is sum of host of complex issues such as governance, long term energy policies, safe and secure investment climate, funding, finance, insurance, taxation, pricing/subsidies etc. Working with many stake holders such as regulatory bodies, transmission companies, electricity supply companies, energy trading issues are to be examined. If taken in isolation, the wind turbines will be another Orwellian dream!Recommend

  • Hamza
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:21PM

    I dont know why people go on about the whole aid dilemma. PAKISTANIS CITIZENS never get the aid which is given to our government. thats why rich get richer and poor get poorer. If anything Pakistan has enough agriculture and resources to fun itself. Please keep your puny aid to yourrself as we have spent 100 times more on the war you have caused in our country Recommend

  • John Doe
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:24PM

    As a specialist in alternative energy, the author forgets to mention some major points, namely:

    The cost figures are completely wrong. After installation, the cost of wind power comes to about $2 Million per MW, and not all of it is useable. They generate electricity about 30% (realistic) to 40% (optimistic) of the time. Offshore generally has better reliability and availability, but cost is increased as well. Due to this, the cost of wind power
    We don’t have the expertise to produce these wind turbines, which takes millions in R&D. Even China, the world’s best copy machine, has still not been able to perfect the design for large scale wind turbines with high efficiency. It’s a complicated machine, not as simple as putting together a bike (which we can’t seem to do properly either). And developing talent locally is a bit of a challenge, especially with the amount of bureaucracy in our system.
    The largest cost in the production of wind turbines is the steel and precious metals, even with locally produced turbines trying to achieve a price of 1 million USD for 5MW is foolish.
    Not withstanding the other problems with Pakistan, namely warring tribes taking down turbines, remoteness of some locations, lack of properly accessed wind maps (we have them, we boast about them, the results are less spectacular though and most areas are only suitable for smaller, more expensive turbines).
    The cost of Wind Power, thus, would be quite a bit higher then the rates that utilities already struggle to collect, and without having a proper and concrete way of reducing the line losses and unpaid bills, we can’t actually afford to pay for the power generated through Wind Turbines
    Due to the above, you’ll have a very hard time attracting honest companies not making kickbacks and fraudulent loans to invest in such projects which are Investment and capital heavy.

    There are other alternative energy systems better suited for Pakistan. Using GeoThermal power, for example, should be explored and can be done at a fraction of the cost or skill level. Better yet, developing our hydel resources is a much better plan, both for our water needs as well as power. Furthermore, we need to diversify our fuel mix so that we have optimum usage of our resources resulting in the least cost, which can only happen once our coal reserves are developed and infrastructure in place to produce a stable base load only from hydel and low-cost coal, with peak/additional power coming from natural gas and furnace oil.

    As a sidenote, whoever thought CNG would be a good idea was extremely short-sighted in our overall natural gas consumption. It’s short-sighted policies that cause problems in Pakistan, and the best remedy is to have a proper, long-term energy policy that doesn’t change every day.Recommend

  • Andrea
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:25PM

    @Solomon2: Both you and Hedgefunder confuse yourselves with Indian duplicity. No Pakistan’s nuclear programme has nothing do with the energy crisis in Pakistan. What you really need to do is remind yourself who introduced nuclear weapons and missiles to South Asia- none other than India who took Canadian donated civilian aid in the form of a nuclear reactor and diverted its use for nuclear weapons. Pakistan will have to deal with the energy crisis which has been in the making since the dictatorship of Musharraf who did nothing to deal with the issue. Now we need to come up with our own solution.Recommend

  • Socrates
    Jul 6, 2011 - 12:06AM

    This is one of the worst pieces of day dreaming that I have seen. The author has no basis for the whole wind power magic that he is weaving. The idea that Pakistan Nuclear Scientists will mandated to and they will miraculously produce the turbines which can then be produced for $1 million instead of the standard $5 million. There is no connection that I see between nuclear physics and wind energy except that possibly they produce same end results. If the author had said, they shoudkd buy it and install it and get carbon credits to subsidize it for example, it’s worth listening but not some miraculous calculation brought out of a rabbit hat. This is purely a waste of time. Tribune should edit such articles rather than waste our time. Recommend

  • parvez
    Jul 6, 2011 - 12:19AM

    What I understand is that as of today we do not have a power shortage. We have a created shortage of power due to various factors.
    For the future, wind does seem like a workable option. The other cheaper and immediatly doable option is the small ‘ run of the river ‘ type of generating units. A study on this exists but apparently what is holding it back is that it can be done locally and as such no big money involved, so no interest is shown from the right quarters. Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jul 6, 2011 - 2:25AM

    No wonder nothing happens with so much disagreement amonsgt, I presume, experts. If one were to present these contrarian views to the Cabinet, what would be the response?!

    They would most likely set up a Committee, a death-knell to decison-making and action.Recommend

  • Sobriquet
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:01AM

    Ajaz Haque should first learn the fundamentals of wind power before writing about it. Pakistan cannot create wind parks for a fifth of international costs as per his claim. He also claims that Spain is producing 73% of its power needs from wind and solar. It is such rubbish that creates misinformation and falsehoods.

    Currently Spain generates less than 13% of total annual electricity from solar and wind. Only in two or three favourable months, when the wind blows constantly, does it get a higher proportion. The other problem with wind is that it doesn’t always blow when you need it. This is why wind energy always requires backup generation for low wind/no wind conditions.

    Spain has set a target of generating 20% of its annual electricity needs from wind and solar by 2020. For this Spain is hoping to get funding from the EU, but now this looks unrealistic. Who will fund Pakistan? International bankers consider Pakistan to be a high-risk country, so perhaps Ajaz Haque will do some ‘expert accounting’ to create the hundreds of billions required to fund Pakistani energy and infrastructure needs.

    Suggestion to Tribune editors: If you don’t have good articles, don’t update your pages. Trash reflects badly on your intelligence.Recommend

  • Sid
    Jul 6, 2011 - 4:05AM

    @ John Doe, Author is not an energy specialist. As evident, he is an accountant. But regardless, I do agree with you that “It’s short-sighted policies that cause problems in Pakistan, and the best remedy is to have a proper, long-term energy policy that doesn’t change every day”. On top of that it should be Government’s responsibility to update the nation on whatever progress made on periodical basis. Every now and then, we touch on this extremely important subject and yet do not see any concrete measures or progress. There is a need to make responsible accountable towards accomplishing the set objectives and defined policies. The whole issue is to be taken on the war footing. There is no time for any complacency.
    By the way any advocates for solar energy? In USA or where the sun shines, it is growing at faster pace. I can tell there is no shortage of sunshine in our country.Recommend

  • Imran
    Jul 6, 2011 - 7:04AM

    The author clearly has no experience in the wind energy industry.
    1) What the heck is a “wind tower”, and how does he arrive at the 7-10 GW figure?
    2) The stat on Spain’s renewable energy production is incorrect, as mentioned above.
    3) The issue is not how to produce wind turbines locally, but how to setup wind farms in Pakistan, even with imported turbines.
    4) the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission already has their hands full building and maintaining nuclear power plants – and as aforementioned, there is no overlap of skills.
    5) It is wishful thinking to believe that turbines can be produced locally at 1/5 the cost of any other country in the world.
    6) Wind energy is not a “quick” solution to the energy crisis – it takes years to develop wind farms – siting, wind data collection, feasibility studies, environmental studies, financing, construction, commissioning, all take time.

    Ask any CEO of the ~20 or so wind IPPs about what issues they’re facing, and you’ll get a much better assessment of the challenges involved with wind energy in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ajaz Haque
    Jul 6, 2011 - 7:04AM

    As the author of this Op-Ed piece, I am delighted that Tribune’s readers have started a discussion on this subject and that is exactly what is needed to solve the power crisis.

    Nowhere in the article did I suggest that we rely on wind energy alone, nor I did I suggest that we not obtain technology. With the current technlogy gap in Pakistan wind energy is the fastest solution and it is also the cheapest.

    We need to change our mindset from CANNOT DO to CAN DO. Wind technology is not rocket science, and yes Pakistan already has rocket science. What is involved is engineering just as it is involved in building nuclear weapons and missiles. The technology is easily available not only from China, but also from several other coutries. Imported wind turbines will be expensive as several layers of profitability is involved, hence the suggestion that these be produced by Pakistani Scientists and Engineers. With our cheaper labour costs and minus the layers of profitability, cost per turbine should be substantially less than import.

    The bureaucrats will always tell us that it cannot be done. But, it CAN be done and it is being done around the world and we can do it too.Recommend

  • Sensible
    Jul 6, 2011 - 8:48AM

    I think this article gives us a proper solution to have a long term energy policy and I agree with the author hundred percent that we really need to open our minds and change our mind set from cannot do to can do which can solve many problems, very encouraging thoughts at this time of crisesRecommend

  • Azam Khan
    Jul 6, 2011 - 10:37AM

    Such simplistic and misleading “solutions” by so-called experts to serious problems in Pakistan are as damaging as bureaucratic immobility and corruption which are taking the country deeper and deeper into an economic quagmire. Completely agree with John Doe and Socrates regarding the grossly inaccurate figures quoted by the author regarding the cost of wind turbines. The more unpalatable truth about the current electricity crisis in Pakistan is that there is no magic wand such as ‘wind turbines’ which will blow it away. However, hydropower is a more viable alternative in our situation than wind energy. Even that is capital expensive and long gestation and would require considerable effort to develop. Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jul 6, 2011 - 10:45AM

    Great idea but who’s going to implement it ? Right now I see no one in the power circles capable of seeing beyond their nose…there may be some hope if Imran Khan comes to power (givent his success at social uplift projects). Other than that, they all range from mr.10% to 90% or whatever.
    We can do similar stuff in KP by harnessing the water resources for cheap hydal-power.Recommend

  • Subhash, India
    Jul 6, 2011 - 11:00AM

    @k. khan: As always, look to China for succor.Recommend

  • Dinesh Chetti
    Jul 6, 2011 - 11:38AM

    Here is the list of countries with MW of wind power production in the year 2010. (Source: Wikipedia- apologies if the facts are wrong in wikipedia)
    1 People’s Republic of China 41,800
    2 United States United States 40,200
    3 Germany Germany 27,214
    4 Spain Spain 20,676
    5 India 13,064
    I think Pakistan should seek the help of its all weather friend for loan to get wind turbines or transfer of technology. China has more than 50 manufacturers of wind turbines. Pakistan should make use of china for these matters. Good luck! Recommend

  • shujah khan
    Jul 6, 2011 - 11:58AM

    Its good to see some one giving solutions instead of just criticizing. Whereas it has become a common practice in Pakistan that we criticize a lot but are unable to provide a solution same applies on political parties as well. Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jul 6, 2011 - 11:59AM

    @John Doe:
    @Shahid Saeed:
    I agree with most of what you gentlemen have written. The wind and solar power is not cheap to say the least. In fact there is no green and cheap solution otherwise nobody would be using the polluting coal as number one for electricity.

    The main problem is the commitment of our country. We are hooked into the nuclear weapons and after over 100 warheads our appetite and desire is still strong. Even the richest countries have to prioritize what is important for them. Even in the US there is a debate going on about cutting defense expenditures, vs. the public welfare programs.
    Pakistan cannot play in the league of China and India. These countries can spend a fraction of their budget on defense toys and still have a lot left. To gain parity, Pakistan has to spend almost all its budget on expensive nuclear toys. For a credible deterrent we do not need hundreds of warheads. Once we have achieved this deterrent, we have to cut the conventional forces/weapons. Wasn’t that the main argument to develop nuclear weapons? To fight terrorists we don’t need nuclear weapons and F-16 and new subs.
    It is about time that the nuclear technology be used for public use. This must be started on war footings and ASAP. Our public has already suffered a lot and no matter what technology do we choose (I am not a real expert on this) it must be done like yesterday. There are lots of experts available in the field of civil nuclear use or any other technology we choose. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. The author deserves kudos for starting this debate! The question most Pakistanis have to answer is, what is more important for you and your prosperity?
    Thanks and regards,

  • Jul 6, 2011 - 12:31PM

    we have less shortage than it is being shown. Just to create a chaos in the country. Recommend

  • mazen
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:02PM

    The whole world is worry about the depleting non-renewable energy sources,one day oil,gas and others like about to finish.This is a good suggestive article but unfortunately who is going to implement all these suggestions-actually no one.Our leadership is incompetent,sluggish,ill-mannered,oblivious to proactive approach and without any vision.These are the reasons that Pakistan had mired in such a mess.Even a layman knows how to upturn these problems,corrective measures require political will and nothing else and also political stability,ironically, we don’t have either of these.The solutions are in abundant but without helping hands.Recommend

  • Ali Naqvi
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:11PM


    Pakistan may be increasing its weapons program but its increasing its population at a greater rate. I suspect that more than any weapons program is responsible for the shortfall. Oh that and our not increasing any production capacity in the past decadeRecommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:18PM

    Mr. Haque, whether you are a scientist, Engineer or an accountant have analysed the problem very well and initiated a positive discussion. Some comment are also very constructive and written with lot of knowledge and pain. Difficulty is that we do not have any forum to discuss our national problems or any think tanks to give ideas to the government, if they take interest sincerely. While discussing we have forgotten our Thar coal reserves! We are not aware about fate of an agreement, sindh government made with some party to establish a Power House with Thar Coal, as a fuel? Small dams on canals and on several rivers, all over the country may also prove very effective solution. But, now there are several stake holders in load shedding process and they are like any other well protected mafia. A few of them are importers of generators, dealers, renters, maintenance firms, UPS importers and manufacturers, batteries manufacturers/sellers and of course oil companies. This makes a powerful lobby. Whether we and the commentators, who have shown great interest in the problem.can`t also make a lobby, not against anybody but simply a group of sincere people, who can give their ideas on problems, knowingly that nobody in power would hear us, as they do not have any such problem we are facing. Recommend

  • Fareed Wariach
    Jul 6, 2011 - 1:59PM

    What will be the cost per unit of windmill,solar bio fuel ,hydra etc.Will the writer tell us for our education=ion.Thanks and regards.Recommend

  • Muhammad Islam
    Jul 6, 2011 - 2:46PM

    Cant we restrict the residential units to use certain amount of energy. To just ensure that every one gets his share until we get some solutions working to produce more energy??Recommend

  • Suresh
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:05PM

    “the complex maze of GOP policymakers who cannot coordinate Pakistan`s energy policy due to overlapping and contradictory authorities. … A lack of coordination and absence of any clear line of authority hampers any formulation of policy efforts to address the current energy crisis in Pakistan.” Americans in wikileaks


  • Rajoo
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:36PM

    I must appreciate Aijazul Haque’s article. At least he mentioned an alternative source of energy which is advance, need of the time and could be econmically viable as we spend million of dollars on oil import bills. I believe vested interests of bureaucracy and ruling elites are the main hurdles in adapting alternative ways to solve our electricity crisis. Pakistan has a lot of wind and sun. We must go on wind and solar technology. Recommend

  • CB Guy
    Jul 6, 2011 - 4:06PM

    I am surprised at some of the comments who out rightly reject the idea. The reason why these turbines would be cheaper in Pakistan are because of the lower overheads. Cost of production will be in rupees not dollars and pounds. Man power is cheap, it can be put to work. I am not saying that man power alone is needed but considering that it will not be imported and certain components will be locally produced.

    All in all, better then rental power waste of money which is making our politicians a lot richer. Recommend

  • Jul 6, 2011 - 4:48PM

    @Shakir Lakhani:
    @shahid saeed

    two concise comments on this rather weak submission.

    the other avenue worth exploring is solar power.

    ms sadeque posted a relevant article in this paper some days back Recommend

  • Hafiz M. Hammad
    Jul 6, 2011 - 4:58PM

    Dr. Samar Mubarak mand continuously claiming we can now produce electricity through coal without creating pollution…..he just needs govt help…but??Recommend

  • OB
    Jul 6, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Wind is unpredictable and therefore you cannot base a large part of your power infrastructure on it. Furthermore, wind turbines, because of large moving parts, are not only costly to manufacture but are also maintain.

    Nuclear is expensive (to build), controversial and accident prone. Accidents at Long Island (NY), Chernobyl and now Japan shout out against it.

    Two things go in Pakistan’s advantage. Sunshine, in abundance in most of the country and the natural terrain which gives its rivers and streams the gradient to efficiently run turbines. The disadvantage with sunshine is that it is only there for a part of the day and that with hydro-power is drainage.

    In the northern areas, small hydropower plants can be installed without building dams while exploiting the run-of-the-river. These can power villages and towns along the rivers and streams and may even feed surplus into the grid. We dont even need an investment of the scale of Ghazi-Barotha.

    In the large scale and in long term, the solution is to build dual reservoir dams alongwith solar powerplants. During the night when solar output is zero, water is let out from the upper reservoir to drive the turbines and to collect in the lower reservoir. During the day, when we have sunshine, the power from the solar plant can provide energy to pump the water from the lower reservoir back to the upper reservoir. This minimises drainage and also mitigates the risk of a drought. This is not a fairy tale but is being practised in Switzerland. Only that they dont have solar energy but buy cheap off-peak electricity from neighbouring countries for pumping water back to the upper reservior.

    Finally, whatever happened to Pakistan’s successful experiment with biogas in the 70s. Living close to an agricultural research facility in Pindi, we could literally smell the electricity :) and see some buildings of the facility lit up with it. Pakistan pioneered it but then left it and now the world is adopting it ( As the story suggests, you dont only need pig crap, just in case the more religiously inclined are offended. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Jul 6, 2011 - 5:34PM

    @Hafiz M. Hammad:
    Electricity through coal without pollution is a dream.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jul 6, 2011 - 5:39PM

    The author has also forgot one of our most abundant resources – the sun! we also need to invest in solar energy and mas produce them cheaply, so people can have them on their houses and rooftops to collect as much energy as possible thereby putting less strain on our energy sector and opening up more of the available energy to industry. But this should be part of a much broader long term plan which take into account hydro as well as other options. We cannot sustain it on wind alone!Recommend

  • whatsinaname-END
    Jul 6, 2011 - 7:17PM

    Being an electrical engineer in the power industry this article was very interesting. Recycling here to add to the discussion. It covers and answers some of the questions and objections raised here.

    Hopefully discussions like this lead to a solution in the future, and the Pakistani engineers and experts (like me) serving other coountries and corporations to make a levelihood see an environment and oppurtunity to return home.Recommend

  • Safir afkhan.
    Jul 6, 2011 - 7:45PM

    @ hafiz hammad well said it even Dr a.qadeer khan sahab also told former dictator mush
    to solve this problem to making a turbine for thar coal units but he refused who know who
    is working for who????????????? Recommend

  • Vinayak
    Jul 6, 2011 - 10:45PM

    @John Doe
    I think Geo-thermal energy is not a better option than wind-energy for Pakistan for now. For Geo-thermal energy, you need lot of technological expertise and also geological factors favoring you. I do not think Pakistan has either. Other than that I find everything you said very sensible.

    I think the first thing that Pakistan government can do is to cut subsidies on electricity. Subsidies only encourage people to take electricity for granted. When they have to pay for it, they will think of conserving it. In India, they give free electricity to farmers in some states, and the farmers employ the worst water pumps for irrigation, wasting electricity in the process.

    The second thing to do is to stop pilfering of electricity. It is best thing is to have a steep fine to deter thieves.

    I find the author very positive, but also over-optimistic. I think it will take lot of time to research wind technology and set-up wind farms. Since, the need is somewhat urgent, it should be prudent to allow foriegn firms having requisite expertise to set-up wind/ solar farms in Pakistan. That way Pak government can also get some valuable foriegn exchange. Maybe Pak can negotiate for technology sharing also.Recommend

  • ba ha
    Jul 7, 2011 - 5:50PM

    max wind turbine Commercially available is 1 MW not 5.Recommend

  • Can we explain the market failure of capital to form around non-carbon fuel sources? Ten years of readiness have gone by for fuel-cell technology adoption in cars, but Big Auto went down making internal combustion SUVs. Shale extraction has bad effects on water tables.


  • pak-india alliance
    Jul 28, 2011 - 12:38PM

    Maybe we should trade energy with India


  • Aug 8, 2011 - 4:27PM

    Electricity theft has its own share in the meddled state of affairs – 34% of the total consumption, causing an annual loss of Rs. 800 million. It is confidently stated that there are industries that have kunda system. According to Thomas B. Smith of Zayed University, electricity theft is closely related to governance indicators, with higher levels of theft in countries without effective accountability, political instability, low government effectiveness and high levels of corruption. This can be reduced by introducing tamper-proof meters, managerial methods such as inspection and monitoring and in some cases restructuring power systems ownership and regulation.


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