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Energy relief

The government has formulated a new Energy Policy, which is yet to be announced, with focus on increasing power generation capacity to 26,800 MW within three years. Reportedly, the policy will encourage utilisation of indigenous resources of energy like hydropower, coal, solar and wind energy, aimed at bridging the gap between the demand and supply of electricity. One of the short-term strategies for immediate reduction of electricity loadshedding, however, could be its conservation that perhaps has not been due importance in the document.

The Planning Commission had launched in 2007 its ‘Vision 2030’ boasting “a developed, industrialised, just and prosperous Pakistan”. Highlights of the projections were 7-8 percent GDP growth, accelerated industrialisation, adequate employment opportunities, balance of imports and exports and improved standard of living. More than five years on, the country has, on the contrary, registered regression in all fields of economy and every sphere of life.

‘Power generation plan’ was a vital component of the Vision 2030 announced in August 2007 since adequate, regular, reliable and sustained electric supply is the foundation for socioeconomic development. It was planned to add 7,880 MW of electricity by 2010 to the installed power generation capacity of 19,540 MW in 2005, thus attaining cumulative capacity of 27,420 MW. The target, however, could not be actualised; rather had fallen much behind.

OVERVIEW In fact, power generation capacity remained stagnant during the previous years. Total installed capacity was 19,420 MW in 2007-08, 19,786 MW in 2008-09 and 20,922 MW in 2009-10. During the last three years, however, there has been an addition of only 3,348 MW to installed power generation capacity, bringing total installed capacity to 23,578 MW at national level, including rental power. However, the dependable and available capacity is 18,913 MW, whereas actual power generation in any year has not exceeded 15,000 MW. Currently, there is a shortfall of about 5,000 MW during peak hours. To manage the shortfall, the Discos are resorting to massive loadshedding – almost six to eight hours in urban and 12 to 16 hours in rural areas.

Nepra’s State of Industry Report 2012 analyses that gap between supply and demand would continue to widen, as the current plans would not be adequate to meet the needs of power sector around 2020, given the huge capacity shortfall, present status of investment and growth in power sector, and slow progress of under-construction mega projects.

PERSPECTIVE Optimal conservation of electric supply in all sectors of economy could play a significant role to minimise prevalent massive loadshedding countrywide. The Demand-Side Management (DSM) applied to electricity system is of critical importance in reducing overall load on national grid, and thus easing out long-hours electricity shortages and outages. The key elements of DSM, an internationally accepted measure to bridge the demand-supply gap, include implementation of electricity conservation programme, launching a media campaign for prudent use of electricity, standardisation of all electrical and electronic appliances and application of energy management systems. Comprehensive conservation programmes are implemented through integrated policy measures, to rationalise use of electricity by increasing power efficiency, reducing electricity waste and optimising resource allocation.

Major areas of electricity conservation in a household are lighting, domestic appliances and electric motor for water pumping, etc. For lighting, the use of energy savers (compact fluorescent lamps, LED light bulbs) instead of conventional incandescent lamps has to be promoted, which will result in 70 percent to 80 percent reduction in wattage consumed. When not in use, stand-by power of all electrical appliances should be switched off to avoid waste of power in the household. Vampire Energy, also known as Phantom Power, is the no-load power waste, which uses 10 percent to 15 percent electricity of a home.

Selection of energy-efficient domestic appliances is also of great importance, as well as their proper regular maintenance. There are cost-effective technologies that help prevent energy waste, such as passive infrared technology and control system. In this case, the sensor-based logic control software manages lighting system and heating/cooling equipment to go in energy saving mode, if installed in a residential or a commercial building for increased efficiency.

An energy conservation programme is currently being implemented by Enercon (National Energy Conservation Centre), with positive results in saving the consumption of gas and petroleum products countrywide. On electricity side too, there exists large potential for conservation that has yet to be exploited. Enercon has in the recent past launched a media campaign with emphasis on creating awareness for energy conservation among consumers. According to Enercon studies, there is an average potential for 25 percent energy conservation. Total electricity billed and consumed at national level was 81,743 GWh in 2011, and just one percent saving would mean more than 81,700,000 kWh units of electricity available additionally in the national grid yearly at peak hours.

PROSPECTIVE DSM is more effective either with a small number of large energy consumers like industrial sector, or among many smaller energy consumers like household. Trend of electricity consumption by various economic groups shows that domestic/household share in electricity consumption in Discos licensed areas has been increasing from 19 percent in 1980 to 43 percent in 2011. In contrast, share of industrial sector has drastically reduced from 38 percent in 1980 to 24 percent at present. Likewise, share of agriculture in total electricity consumption reduced to 12 percent in 2011 compared to 25 percent in 1980. Conclusion is thus drawn that DSM techniques need to be focused on domestic/household group, in the first instance, for achieving targeted results.

The government, or the utility companies, needs to offer energy efficiency rebates to such consumers on the basis of a defined formula. Given the conditions of poor education and lack of civic sense and society responsibility, the domestic consumers would not be interested, if asked, in contributing towards environmental aspects and reducing global warming. There has to be some incentive for the consumers like housewives, students and operators, besides reduction in their utility bills, in order to create an energy conservation culture as a social responsibility. Intensive public advertisement campaign has to be launched through press and electronic media with focus on targeted consumers.

Specific conservation projects need to be developed for industrial sector on the basis of energy audits of the consumers. About 65 percent of industrial power is used in motors of various sizes, most of which operate at full speed when switched as motors are controlled by drives that could not change motor speed. Use of variable speed drives and high-efficiency motors thus provides the solution. Similarly, regular maintenance and rehabilitation or replacement of old electrical equipment will result in power savings. Performing and monitoring energy audits and energy saving calculations, providing technical assistance and training on energy efficient technologies and practices on yearly basis for devising energy conservation plans in industry will be of great help.

All these measures, if adopted seriously and wholeheartedly, would result in significant savings of electricity as highlighted above. So far the government however has not shown political will and commitment towards achieving energy savings as is reflected in the fact that decisions taken at the National Energy Conservation Strategy Meeting held on 24th January 2008, which was chaired by the then Prime Minister, have not been put into operation as yet. For example, 10 million energy savers were to be provided to consumers located in load-centers free of cost, aiming at replacement of existing electricity bulbs, but the same have not yet been arranged. Likewise, the government has not been successful so far in providing an enabling legal environment for energy conservation through introducing Pakistan Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2011, draft of which is available for quite sometime.

(The writer is Chairman, The Institution of Engineers, Pakistan, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Centre)

Engr Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui, "Energy relief," Business recorder. 2013-07-03.
Keywords: Social science , Social issues , Social needs , Social problems , Energy shortfall , Energy resources , Social activities , Social systems , Energy policy , Power production , Loadshedding , Pakistan