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Energy conservation: the only option

Your editorial “Ban on use of air conditioners” on May 12, is untimely and to call PM’s action “inane” is really not fair! How can you say that banning general use of air conditioners in government offices will not reduce the demand for electricity?

In air conditioned buildings, more than 50% of energy use is by conventional air conditioning systems and if most of the areas can be “opened up” for natural ventilation and supported with small table fans (in this period of critical energy crisis), there will be substantial reduction in corresponding energy consumption! To hide behind the PPRA process of procurement of small table fans is illogical as ways can be found to procure such simple fans at standard price from numerous local fan manufacturers.

You quote the proposal of caretaker Minister for Water and Power to deal with the energy crisis covering the following:

i. Extend 150 billion rupees to the power sector. To do what? You have no money in the kitty and you want to spend this huge sum in buying more furnace oil to produce wasteful energy for air conditioning? Instead of conservation you want to print more notes for this fuel which can be avoided if you reduce energy consumption?

ii. Divert furnace oil supplies to IPPs who will also produce power in “efficient” power plants costing Rs 20 per kWH unit? Why do you not conserve energy first, because it is the most economical route to solving the crisis? Reducing electrical loads by discouraging air conditioning must be enforced wherever possible.

iii. Reduce transmission losses to 2.5% (instead of present 3.6%)? Distribution losses are averaging 30% and above and “solution” is being presented to save 1% energy!

iv. Full cost recovery, by replacing subsidies with higher tariffs? How far can you go in removing present subsidies? Unless you conserve energy and reduce consumption and then ensure efficient generation, you can not possibly increase electric supply tariff by more than 50% in these few weeks left for the interim government!

You can see from above that drastic action is required to meet the coming summer energy short-fall so the PM’s line of action to first ensure we are dressed for summer and then to allow natural ventilation with simple shading and cooling techniques and small fans to save energy in these times of serious shortages. Please remember putting off one split air conditioner means you are sparing enough energy to operate at least 30 home fans!

What is the world doing to meet the challenges of higher energy costs? Generally, in Japan and China, even executives are expected to be dressed in short-sleeve shirt (and no neck-tie) in summer.

This enables them to operate their air conditioning systems at 28-29 deg C, even though they have no crisis! And we want 24 deg C so that we can wear suit during summer! We need to understand the high costs of energy and how just this sector is taking all the “subsidies” that we should be providing in education and health sectors. We need to conserve energy in every possible way and the PM’s directive both for “proper” dress in summer and banning air-conditioning should be appreciated and not ridiculed! Harsh measures are sometime required to face difficult times and presently, we are surely going through very difficult times as far as energy shortages are concerned.

Ainul Abedin, "Energy conservation: the only option," Business recorder. 2013-05-16.
Keywords: Social issues , Social crisis , Social problems , Social activities , Energy crisis , Energy shortfall , Energy consumption , Pakistan , PPRA