Pakistan’s energy crisis could best be addressed through a holistic approach integrating immediate improvement in generation and supply systems with judiciously planned exploitation of diverse resources, top experts emphasised at a one-day conference here.
Organised by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the conference brought together public officials and leading private sector experts who explored ways including alternative sources of energy – solar and wind – to overcome chronic shortages, which were causing a loss of up to 3% of gross domestic product each year.
“Pakistan is striving for the development of a low-cost and sustainable power sector that will meet its energy needs in a sustainable manner,” Musadik Malik, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Water and Energy, told the inaugural session of the conference, moderated by Asia Programme Director Robert Hathaway.
The conference, held the other day, was informed that Pakistan’s goals included supply of inexpensive electricity at affordable rates for its 180 million people, which can be made possible through high levels of generation, transmission and distribution efficiency.
“Pakistan aspires to eliminate the demand and supply gap, reduce true economic cost of power to a single digit and eradicate pilferage in five years,” Malik said in his presentation.
He identified the demand and supply gap, lack of affordability and inefficiency/pilferage as the three major power challenges for the country.
In 2012, average generation stood at 10,808 megawatts, pushing the average demand-supply gap up to 4,608MW.
“We will encourage competition by developing energy corridors and offering favourable tariffs for low-cost energy sources, and creating a key client management system,” the adviser said.
In her presentation made from Islamabad via video link, Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi focused on a series of reforms needed to revamp the sector including efforts aimed at rationalising the tariffs and improving recoveries.
She also underscored the importance of balancing the energy mix, pointing out that heavy reliance on imported oil for electricity production caused a considerable strain on the economy as compared to domestically produced gas and hydropower.
“Thus, Pakistan needs to have an energy mix that does not force it to depend on expensive fuel to generate energy. Costs can be brought under control by first shifting the fuel mix from the expensive residual furnace oil to coal and hydel-based generation.”
Javed Akbar, an energy entrepreneur, called for a policy thrust on hydel, wind and solar power generation growing to 50% of the total production within 10 years. He particularly advocated the use of solar energy for residential needs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.
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