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Energy – From policy to implementation

The process from having an energy vision to achieving energy security is a complex and multi-faceted one which requires dedicated efforts and input from specialists. The crucial phase of this is none other than an energy demand modelling exercise undertaken on scientific lines and based on a current and expected rise in energy demand – not only for the medium to long-term but for 20 to 25 years.

Unfortunately, such an exercise has never been attempted in the country. This negligence has contributed significantly to inaccurate policies resulting in the ongoing energy crisis. However, accurate energy modelling itself requires a detailed data gathering phase. Data accuracy leads to an accurate demand model which then leads to accurate plans. This necessitates the implementation of a standardised roadmap so that policymakers can be guided from the initial vision to the preparation and implementation of an action plan; create an accurate energy demand for short to long term planning; harmonise the energy demand at the national and provincial level; and allow for a variety of energy and technology mixes.

Any systematic approach encompassing the above mentioned steps would minimally comprise: i) an energy vision ii) energy demand modelling iii) energy resource mapping iv) energy policy development and v) an energy implementation plan. The energy implementation plan must be followed in letter and spirit thus ensuring that timelines and goals are met.

Vision is the nascent step for any plan. However, the predicament here is not turning the vision into a detailed policy or action plan as has been the norm in the country. The energy vision needs to provide a view of the future in accordance with the overall economic and national plans as well as population estimates. It is crucial that intricate details are not set at this time of the process as the necessary information needed is not available to the resource planners. Many failures of energy plans can be traced back to the setting up of details too early in the planning process.

In the last few decades, energy demand modelling has become a complex process entailing the utilisation of specialists and expert simulation systems. Predicting the demands accurately is crucial to coming up with an energy plan which ensures energy shortages do not occur in future.

As evident in the first decade of the twenty-first century, any energy demand forecasting with regard to Pakistan needs to accommodate the uncertainty factor. This uncertainty factor can either mean unprecedented growth as witnessed in the early 2000s or a slowdown interval in the economy. To accurately predict this factor, the energy demand modelling needs to follow a systematic process from the collection of data on key drivers. These key drivers, among others, include: i) energy infrastructure ii) energy intensity of industrialisation iii) consumption pattern iv) travelling habits and v) consumer demand behaviour. The first step in this process is accurately identifying all the key drivers. Next, a methodological process for data collection needs to be followed to ensure data accuracy.

Based on the data collected, the energy experts are able to model the demand. Simulation software is a cornerstone of this step and its usage has become a common practice in energy modelling.

Energy demand modelling kick-starts the intricate process of energy resource planning. This is a time consuming process as the experts also have to look at the geopolitical situation globally and in the region. This includes many other factors such as the country’s imports and national fuel sources. Here the need is to focus on a number of factors of which energy sources and infrastructure development are the most important. The energy sources needs to comprehensively cover the areas of electricity generation, energy procurement, indigenous sources, technologies available and global trends. Infrastructure-related planning covers the areas of construction of new power plants, pipelines, water accessibility and so forth. Areas such as energy efficiency planning and energy diversification are also integrated at this point. The decision to include the areas of renewable energy in the national energy mix, requirements of human resource, financial constraints and industrial requirements are also mapped in this phase.

Once the energy resource mapping is done, the energy policy can be formulated. It is this energy policy which is based on such extensive groundwork that promises to deliver a successful implementation plan.

However, the work does not end here. The policy developed needs to be an integrated energy policy. Developing different policies for different energy sources, such as: i) fossil fuels, ii) renewable energies, and iii) energy imports not only leads to duplication of efforts at national level but also costs more resources. Additionally, the policy coordination and coherence becomes a major issue. In rare instances the policies might also negate each other.

The ideal integrated energy policy would cover all aspects of energy at national and provincial levels. Once an integrated energy policy has been developed, only then can the policymakers move on to the implementation phase.

Development of the energy action plan marks the start of the implementation phase. Based on the energy policy, an energy action plan is created which outlines the details for the implementation of the plans to achieve the identified energy targets with timelines as well as availability of financial resources and/or investment.

Can this be done in a country known for duplication efforts, multiplicity of institutions, lack of coordination and political considerations taking precedence over rational decision making and optimal resource allocation? To this list, another dimension that needs to be factored in is none else than the corruption, malpractices and the urge to swindle and squander away the scarce financial resources.

The energy policy developed with a roadmap, timelines and optimal energy mix – prepared by experts – has to be agreed upon by the major political parties so that an uninterrupted pursuit is ensured. This would give a positive signal to donors, multilateral institutions and investors about the continuation of the policy. Let us deliver this time.

The writer is a Ph.D. candidate.


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