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Punjab industries converting to alternative energy

LAHORE: The Punjab industries are converting on alternative energy due to uninterrupted power and gas outages of six to eights hours daily, besides improving their efficiency to reduce costs and stay competitive domestically and internationally, analysts said on Tuesday.

“We are unable to compete with similar industries in other provinces that enjoy full gas supplies and lower electricity load-shedding, said Syed Nabeel Hashmi, Chairman Punjab Economic Forum.

The majority of industries are suffering from power and gas load-shedding, but some have managed to reduce the operating cost through improvement in their efficiencies.The manufacturing sector in Punjab is now using biomass (agricultural waste), solid municipal waste, coal gasifiers, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), used tyres, rejected leather soles as alternative fuels to gas, furnace oil and diesel, he said.

In addition, Punjab industries have upgraded technology and their human resource to improve productivity, said Hashmi.Gohar Ejaz, group leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, said, “We would never have realised the quantum of savings that could be made through energy audits.”

German non-government organisation GIZ and Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (SMEDA) have facilitated APTMA member mills by providing free services of highly qualified foreign energy audit and management system experts, he said, adding that only through energy audit and the resultant cost-free changes in the manufacturing system 25 APTMA members gained a cumulative benefit of Rs258 million per annum.

The benefits doubled for those mills that agreed to make some minor investments, he said, adding that savings made through improvement in efficiencies did provide some relief to the mills when they used alternative energy resources.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Senior Vice President Kashif Yunus Mehr, who is associated with the steel melting industry, said that larger steel melting units have imported coal gasifiers from China.

The gas produced is use to heat the furnaces, he said.“It costs 20 percent higher than the natural gas as it was the only alternative to keep the industry running as natural gas is mostly unavailable.”

These gasifiers require investment of Rs25 million that mills with small capacities cannot afford, he said, adding that the small steel melting units are using locally-fabricated small gasifiers that are highly inefficient, but serve the purpose of keeping the production intact.

Among the larger corporate sector, Nishat Group has established a 12MW biomass and solid municipal waste-run power plant at its textile processing unit in Lahore, he said.To cut its cost, it is recovering the caustic soda used in its processing mills by installing a recovery plant at its water treatment facility, said Mehr.

At its cement factory in Kalar Kahar, it is using solid municipal waste, used tyres, rubber chappals, rice husk, wheat straw, corn cob, as fuel for heating purposes.“We are not using power supplied by the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) in most of the manufacturing facilities of our group,” said Nishat Group Chairman Mian Mohammud Mansha.

Engineering sector entrepreneur Almas Hyder said, “Unfortunately our industrial sector grew initially on protection that gave rise to huge inefficiencies.”By improving efficiencies the increase in cost of production could be absorbed to a large extent, he said.

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