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June 24, 2018

High demand, bad management exhaust national grid


June 24, 2018

LAHORE: Despite increase in power generation capacity by about 10,000 megawatt during last five years, high demand and bad management of available resources have led to increase in outages in hot weather across the country in the last month or so.

As per official assessment, the biggest key constraint in the national grid has been the absence of any contingency capacity in the system, despite major jump on the power generation side. This shortcoming effectively means that all power generating assets are operating at their capacity, and there is no excess capacity available in the system to face any challenges in case of any abrupt dip on generation side. On the back of augmented power producing capacities, electricity generation has been on average more than 20,000MW compared to 14,800MW registered in 2013, but failure of a few power generation plants have exposed instable national power system during peak demand recorded in last several weeks.

The closure of Nandipur Power plant, Warsak Hydropower project and prolonged testing of Balloki RLNG-based thermal power plant deprived the national grid of about 2,000MW of electricity.

Official sources confirmed that one of the main reasons of recent large-scale power shortages has been unforeseen dip in power supply due to closure of plants.

Warsak Hydropower was closed due to silt corrosion that could damage its turbine and Balloki RLNG-based plant was not working due to a leakage fault and delayed commercial operation date.

Nanadipur Thermal Power Plant on the other hand was closed due to its belated annual maintenance. Official sources confirmed to this scribe that Nandipur was not shut due to carrying out overdue annual maintenance.

Owing to continuous running and not finding time for its shutdown, the generation capacity was de-rated and it had reduced to 380MW out of the installed 500MW capacity. Therefore, it was deemed appropriate to shutdown during peak demand in order to bring it back its lost capacity.

Despite jump in generation capability, overall demand of electricity is also on the rise at a rapid pace. According to an official study, power demand has risen by more than 5,000MW during the last four years. Except relatively milder demand in May 2018, peak power requirement was being witnessed since May 25, 2018, and so far it has touched around 25,000MW in June 2018.

As per an official assessment prepared by the federal Ministry of Energy, the country’s power generation capacity that stood at 18,753MW on June 30, 2013 jumped by 10,000MW to 28,704MW on May 30, 2018. Total energy generated and supplied will be more than 125 billion units by the end of this calendar year against the 90.97 billion units generated in 2013.

In 2017, total electricity generated and supplied was recorded at 114.46 billion units, while up to June 10, 2018, 50.31 billion units have already been produced by the power plants, showing significant augmentation of the capacity.

Owing to low availability of river water this year, power generation has been below average, further compounding problems of outages.

Hydropower generation that started to pick up by mid-May will increase 7,500MW in about a month.

Contrary to previous years’ trend, hydropower generation in May 2018 has been the lowest. Against the average 5,500MW generated by hydropower stations during the month of May between 2013 and 2017, the output faltered to 3,090MW in 2018.

When contacted, Power Division spokesman confirmed peak demand of electricity in recent weeks, coupled with running of system at full capacity and closure of Nanadipur, Balloki and Warsak plants due to various reasons.

He expressed the hope that with increase in river inflows, power generation would increase in near future.

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