Tuesday March 21, 2023

Nuclear energy becomes top electricity source for Pakistan

In December, out of the total pie of electricity generated from all sources, the share of nuclear energy was 27.15 percent

January 20, 2023
The Chashma-III reactor is pictured in Chashma, some 250 kilometres southwest of capital Islamabad. —AFP/File
The Chashma-III reactor is pictured in Chashma, some 250 kilometres southwest of capital Islamabad. —AFP/File

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Nuclear energy became Pakistan’s top power source for the first time, as it met over 27 percent of the country’s energy demand in December 2022 at a cost of less than half a US cent.

In November too, nuclear generation was the top source after hydropower. Nuclear sources contributed 2,338 GWh of electricity to the national grid.

Pakistan has been actively pursuing the plan to increase the share of cleaner energy sources in its energy mix, as carbon-based power, especially oil and gas not only affect the environment but are also expensive. Each year, Islamabad spends multi-billion dollars on fossil fuels imports.

In December, out of the total pie of electricity generated from all sources, the share of nuclear energy was 27.15 percent (or 2,284.8 GWh) generated at Rs1.073/unit, followed by hydel with 20.44 percent (1,720.4 GWh), coal-based power 18.1 percent (1,520.9 GWh) at Rs11.5/unit, natural gas 15.13 percent (1,273.8 GWh) at Rs10.5/unit, RLNG 13.7 percent (1,153.7 GWh) at Rs20.2/unit.

Besides, 0.46 percent (38.91 GWh) of expensive electricity was generated from furnace oil during December at Rs25.7971/unit. No electricity was generated from high-speed diesel. Wind power contributed 2.5 percent (or 211.6 GWh) of electricity to the national grid, and Bagasse-based power was 1.2 percent (101 GWh) at Rs5.97/unit, while solar-based energy’s contribution was 0.8 percent or 69.5GWh in December 2022.

This resulted in Pakistan’s December 2022 power generation cost recording significant decline of 14.5 percent, data showed on Thursday. The data also showed that overall power generation in the country declined by 4.7 percent in the month under review, compared to the same month of last year.

In December 2022, fuel cost for power generation decreased by 14.5 percent year-on-year to an average of Rs7.04/KWh compared with an average cost of Rs8.24/KWh during the corresponding month in the last financial year. However, it went up by 17.6 percent month-on-month.

On a YoY basis, the decrease in fuel cost was witnessed mainly due to a rise in nuclear, and solar based generation along with 14 percent YoY decline in coal-based cost of generation due to the addition of local coal-based plants. On MoM basis, the rise in fuel cost was triggered by a decline in hydropower generation and nuclear-based generation, said Tahir Abbas, Head of Research at Arif Habib Limited.

Based on less expensive energy generated in December, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA-G) has sought the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s nod for a reduction of Rs2.1995/unit in tariff for the Ex-Wapda Distribution Companies (XWDiscos) consumers on account of fuel charges adjustments (FCA) for December 2022. If it was approved, Discos will refund it in February 2023 bills.

In its petition submitted to NEPRA, on behalf of XWDiscos, the CPPA-G said that for December, the reference fuel charges from the consumers were Rs9.3193/unit while the actual fuel cost was Rs7.1198/unit. Therefore, it should be allowed to refund Rs2.1995/unit, which it had overcharged from the consumers.

During the month, 8,416.91 GWh of electricity was generated at the cost of Rs59.289 billion (or Rs7.0441/unit) and 8,096.88 GWh had been delivered to Discos at Rs57.648 billion (or Rs7.1198/unit). The transmission losses during December were 3.35 percent (or 282.10kWh).

The power regulator will hold a public hearing on the petition of CPPA-G on January 30, 2023.

In earlier months, NEPRA had been allowed to collect additional amounts from the consumers due to the high cost of imported fuel. FCA for November 2022 was Rs4.3/unit, which would be collected in January 2023 bills. However, for October, the FCA was negative 0.3213/unit, which was being refunded to consumers in their December bills.

It should be noted that cost of other fuels went up on YoY basis. The cost of RFO increased by 16 percent, RLNG went up 12.5 percent, whereas domestic gas price increased 25 percent.

The power generation data showed that it was down by 4.7 percent YoY during December of this fiscal compared to the same month of last fiscal. Power generation went down by 4.7 percent YoY to 8,417 GWh (11,313MW) during the month under review compared to 8,828 GWh (11,866MW) during the same month of last financial year. On MoM basis, generation increased by 0.6 percent.