Load shedding is one of the serious problems of Pakistan. The PML-N had claimed in the 2013 elections that it will solve this problem only in a year. In spite of all claims and their rule of five years, they failed completely in generating sufficient electricity. The former CM of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif said, “Loadshedding is your problem now.” The long duration of loadshedding in the sacred month of Ramadan exposed the performance of the ruling party. The circular debt of Rs400 billion is a clear proof of the mismanagement in the energy sector. The auditor general of Pakistan severely objected to the payment of 80 billion rupees in this regard previously. The reasons for the fake energy crisis and its solution are given below.
According to estimation 22,000-24,000 megawatt electricity is needed in Pakistan. This demand increases up to 5% each year. It means 1,000 or1,200 megawatt is added. Unfortunately, we have never been able to produce more than 18,000 megawatt energy. The government claimed to produce 24,000MW electricity. But even NTDC, which is an institution of the government, does not confirm it.
Because this institution does not have the capacity for transmission and distribution of more than 18,000MW, several new institutions, including the wind power generating institutions, are not being allowed to produce the electricity more than a certain level.
The difference between power generation and capacity for transmission is also the inability of our governments. It means that there is a difference of 6,000MW between the production and the transmission of power. It is expressed in the form of loadshedding in the whole country. Definitely, the government has completed many power projects in its five years. But the difference between demand and supply which was 5,000MW in 2013, has reached up to the level of 6,000MW in 2018. The government of PML-N had started the energy projects that are based on LNG and coal.
This government has completed only two hydro and atomic power projects that were inaugurated by the previous governments and were on the stage of completion in 2013. Same is the case of other wind and solar projects.
It shows that the projects that can be started without foreign help (LNG, imported coal) are not the priority of the present govt. Consequently, the circular debts have increased up to the level of Rs400 billion. The government could complete the wind, hydro and solar projects of 2,000MW with this amount. 4,500MW electricity and 6.4 million acre feet water could be generated with the completion of Bhasha Dam. Dasu Hydropower Project, which is in the lower stream, can also add 30% to the total production of electricity. This important project was absolutely ready before 2013. But the government did not pay attention to it. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced Rs474 billion for Ecnec in the last month of his government.
The government focused on non-development projects like the division of laptop. If it had invested Rs100 billion yearly on energy projects, the dam and water reservoir could be made ready. We could be able to borrow equipment for the production of energy from the relevant institutions instead of begging from international financial institutions. But the government was interested only in those projects that could be started and completed in five years.
This is the reason that this important project which was inaugurated by Yusuf Raza Gillani and Pervez Musharraf many years before could not be carried on. Hydropower is the most inexpensive source of producing the electricity in Pakistan. But the present government ignored it completely. LNG and coal have remained its greatest priority. Such projects are useful for short term only. These projects are not durable and dependable for long term due to their heavy cost of production. According to Wapda, Pakistan has the capacity for producing 1000,00MW electricity through hydropower projects. Almost 65,000MW projects have been designed and studied. Same is the matter of solar and wind projects. The sources of fossil energy are reducing all over the world. The environmental pollution is also a serious issue. All these factors have changed the dynamics of the energy industry in the whole world. All developed countries, including China, America and Germany (even our neighbour, India) are increasing the production of hydroelectricity. China has the capacity of 114,000MW of wind energy. The capacity of its solar energy plants is 28,000MW.
Germany has less than 50% of total area in comparison with Pakistan’s. It is producing 39,000MW wind energy. It has 50% sunshine hours than Pakistan but still producing 38,000MW solar energy. Can’t we fulfill our needs of electricity by establishing the wind, solar and hydropower plants? These projects are cheap, durable and environment friendly. According to an American research institution, NREL, Pakistan has immense capacity for producing wind and solar energy. The estimation of solar energy is almost 29,000MW. It is 100% more than our needs. The capacity for generating wind energy in Pakistan is 346,000MW. Aren’t we thankless to Allah Almighty and depending on foreign investment, loan and interest? It is the need of the hour that we should learn to secure our interests as a nation.
We should stress the governments to change their priorities. They should establish cheap and durable power projects instead of expensive projects. If we want to get rid of loadshedding and provide electricity to industry and trade, we have to depend on hydro, solar and wind energy. We should set our priorities honestly and sincerely. We should save money and produce investment opportunities for foreign countries. We should attract the foreign investors to our energy projects so that we can be able to produce energy according to our needs.
—The writer is the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami