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Korea keen to help in water, power projects

Ambassador of South Korea to Pakistan Choong Joo Choi Friday called on the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Shah on Friday and discussed with him the ways and means to enhance cooperation among Korean firms and Wapda in water and hydropower sectors.

The chairman said Wapda is implementing a comprehensive plan for optimal utilisation of the water and hydropower resources in view of increasing needs of water and electricity in the country.

Apprising the ambassador of more than 20 projects with cumulative power generation capacity of 20,000MW low-cost electricity and water storage capacity of about 12 million acre feet, he said these projects offer excellent investment opportunities to foreign and local firms.

Solar lanterns for villagers

Villagers in Punjab’s Lodhran district have been provided solar lanterns to combat electricity shortfall by a national assembly candidate.

Jahangir Khan Tareen of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf decided to provide light to the inhabitants of four small villages in Lodhran. Many of the villagers now have solar lanterns to light the streets at night.

In a country where the daily electricity shortfall averages 5,000MW, there is one promise no political party dared to make in its electoral manifesto: a short-term solution to the energy crisis.

Deciding that electioneering doesn’t have to do with direct politicking, Mr. Tareen decided to provide light to the inhabitants of four small villages in Lodhran.

He decided the only possible solution was the use of solar lanterns in the villages.Tareen’s inspiration was the international “Lighting a Million Lives” (LaML) campaign led in Pakistan by Buksh Foundation.

The election was also a priority. So the deadline was decided to be April 10, to be exact, or one month and a day before May 11. The solar lamps became available on April 10.

An estimated 2,500 are now benefiting from the availability of the solar lamps.

About 43 percent of Pakistan’s population lives without access to electricity. Of these 43 percent, 70 percent of people live in rural areas. About 50,000 villages are completely detached from the national electricity grid.

Small, medium power projects in vogue

As the energy crisis worsens and with no immediate solution in sight, private companies are opting for small and medium scale power generation plants, official sources say.

An official at National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) said that they were receiving many generation license applications from the private sector for small and medium sized projects as these require comparatively less investment and time to complete. Finergy Pvt. Ltd has approached Nepra for a generation license for its 50MW wind power project that is to be set up in Jhimpir, Sindh.

Moreover, two wind power projects; FFCEL (49.5MW) and Zorlu Enerji (56.4MW) have already been completed.

Another company, Fatima Energy Limited has also applied for a generation license for its proposed 120MW bagasse/coal based thermal power plant to be set up in Muzaffargarh Punjab.

Nepra processed 14 applications for the generation of 1,343 MW and issued a total of 12 generation licenses last year.

Naveed Tehsin, an energy sector analyst at JS Research, said, at the moment, small and medium sized projects are the only option.

Large projects, particularly hydro projects required huge investment, which the private sector could not undertake, he said.

Mostly, government embarks upon such ventures and, at present, its too preoccupied to look into this matter. Therefore, small and medium sized thermal or solar / wind projects are coming up, he added.

The Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) acts as the one-window facility for the private sector for establishing renewable energy projects based on wind, solar, micro-hydel, biodiesel, biomass, waste to energy, fuel cells, tidal and wave energy. AEDB is also vested with the responsibility of formulation of national strategy, policies, plans and programmes for development of alternate/renewable energy (ARE) technologies in the country. Though wind energy has been the focus, AEDB has undertaken development activities in ARE sectors for power generation.

ARE-based projects, in general, and the wind energy projects, in particular, would play an important role in the future energy mix of Pakistan. Due to the availability of natural gas and rising prices of imported fuel oil, very little investment in conventional power projects is anticipated here. Moreover, coal and hydel power projects also have a long gestation period -whereas Wind energy, being indigenous and cheap, is fast becoming the most attractive option for generating electricity. The wind energy sector is attracting the most foreign investment in the county at the moment.

In addition to investors, international equipment suppliers, manufacturers and O&M operators have also been taking keen interest in Pakistan’s wind energy sector.

New gas discovery

A new gas reservoir has been discovered in the Kirthar Foldbelt, Sukhpur, an official statement said.

The director general of Petroleum Concessions told Sohail Wajahat H Siddiqui, minister for petroleum and natural resources, that Eni Pakistan in joint venture with the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) has made a new discovery of gas reservoirs in the Kirthar Foldbelt through Lundali-I well located in the Sukhpur bloc, 270km north of Karachi. The Lundali-I is a 2,660 metres deep well.

Sethi for expediting installation of power plants at Sundar, Faisalabad

Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi said on Thursday that the national economy could be strengthened and poverty could be reduced by promoting economic, industrial and trade activities.

According to a handout, he was presiding over a meeting to review the performance of Punjab and Faisalabad Industrial Estates Development and Management Companies at the CM’s Secretariat.

Sethi said new job opportunities could be created through speeding up industrial process, adding that a peaceful atmosphere was vital for promotion of economic activities. He said that besides improving law and order, the Punjab government was taking every possible steps for promotion of business activities in the province.

He directed the authorities that the pace of work on the project of installing power plants in Sundar and Faisalabad industrial estates should further be accelerated.Sethi said the wheel of industry should keep moving for ridding the society of poverty and unemployment and promoting economy.

He said that industrial estates had played an important role and industrial process was expedited through them. He said all facilities were being provided to the industrialists for setting up industries in industrial estates through one-window operation.

He said that special attention had been paid to the provision of best facilities to the industrialists in industrial estates established.

He said the provision of every facility should be ensured in commercial areas developed in Sundar Industrial Estate. Sethi said improvement of law and order situation was the top priority of the Punjab government.

He directed the authorities concerned that provision of infrastructure in industrial estates should be ensured on a priority basis and establishment of export processing zones be considered.

US urged to help overcome energy crisis

Azhar Saeed Butt, chairman of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Punjab Region, has urged the United States to help overcome the energy crisis, as industry is on the verge of collapse.

A three-member American fact finding mission headed by Robert Kemp, political and economic officer, visited the FPCCI Regional Office Lahore on Thursday and held a detailed discussion with Butt on the matters of mutual interest and the economic issues of Pakistan.

Butt said that Pakistan is passing through critical time. “Industry is sinking due to the energy problem. We have to generate economical electricity and gas to run our industry. Iran gas pipeline is the most beneficial for our economy. We should generate electricity from other sources but that is more costly and time consuming,” he said.

Other main factors, which are hitting the economy, are the war on terror and sluggish economy.

Butt said that India should be a big market for Pakistani products; however, nontariff barriers are the main hurdle.

“We require economic and political stability, which can be possible with the cooperation of friends. America should adopt equal policy in this region to make Pakistan stable,” he said.

Only responsible leader can resolve energy crisis

Only sincere and responsible political leadership can resolve the energy crisis in three years who appoint energy sector expert and give them free hand; otherwise, the situation would be worsened in the country. These views were expressed by experts at the Jang Economic Session on “could electricity crisis be resolved in three years,” here on Tuesday. The panellists were VC University of South Asia, Dr Sohail Aftab, former Managing Directors of Pepco, Munawar Basir, and Tahir Basharat Cheema, Engineers Qaiser Zaman and Salman Najeeb and Tahmina Asad while hosted by Sikandar Hameed Lodhi and Intikhab Tariq. Dr Sohail Aftab said false claims were being made to end loadshedding as it could be reduced, not ended. He said Kalabagh Dam was politicised and could not be constructed even next 20 years. He stressed the need to reduce technical and line loses, operate tube wells on solar energy, promotion of energy saver instruments and install metering system at transformers to stop electricity theft. Munawar Basir said no political party have plans to resolve energy crisis. He said real time shortfall surpassed to 9,000 Mega Watt. He said government was selling Rs 15 per unit cost electricity at Rs 9 per unit and circular debt could not be reduced by minimising this difference. He said conversion of diesel plants on LNG would be beneficial for country while government could save 4,000 Mega Watt electricity by good governance. Tahir Basharat Cheema said due to increase in production cost of electricity energy crisis emerged and industrial development was halted. He said circular debt was increased to Rs 435 billion due to difference between the production costs of selling tariff of energy. He said Jamshoro Plant was producing electricity at Rs 27 per unit and Muzaffargarh at Rs 24 per unit. He believed that the government should shut down these plants while electricity theft should be a non-bailable crime. He said the government should deduct Rs 120 billion overdue dues of all provinces and AJK from Federal Adjuster and pay it to energy sector. He called for evolving national energy policy on the pattern of national defence policy and providing funds for Thar Coal Project from national exchequer. Engineers Qaiser Zaman said the electricity theft should also be controlled along with increase in the electricity production. Engineers Salman Najeeb said by controlling the irrelevant usage of gas electricity crisis could be reduced. He said CNG should be given to public transport only while wrong use of gas by the other sectors should also be curtailed and this gas be supplied to power plants. Tahmina Asad said that a forum comprising technocrats should be evolved to resolve energy crisis.

Energy committee takes stock of power situation

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (R) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Monday constituted a three-member ministerial committee to review the energy situation and give its recommendations with a view to improving the power situation in the country.

The three-member committee comprises federal ministers for petroleum, water and power and advisor on finance.The decision was taken by the caretaker prime minister while chairing a high level meeting to review the energy situation in the country at the PM House on Monday.

The meeting was informed that the current generation in the country was 9,200 MW against a suppressed demand of 13,000MW.The prime minister was informed that only 55 mmcfd gas was being provided to the thermal power plants against the promised 150mmcfd gas.

The meeting also reviewed the position of recovery of dues and the quantum of funds required to produce optimum generation. It was also decided during the meeting to set up a mechanism to monitor the generation and demand of electricity in the country. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources briefed the meeting that presently 3,860 mmcfd gas was being produced in the country.

The prime minister directed the Ministry of Water and Power to ensure that uninterrupted electricity was available in the country for the evening of May 10 for the next 36 hours to ensure that the process of polling and counting of votes is completed smoothly.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Water and Power, Dr Musadiq Malik, for Petroleum and Natural Resources Sohail Wajahat H. Siddiqui, for Communication, Ports and Shipping, Adadullah Khan Mandokhel, while Advisor on Finance, Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, Chairman Wapda and senior officials of the Ministries of Finance, Water and Power, Petroleum and Prime Minister’s Secretariat also attended.

Decision on subsidised power to tube-wells likely to be annulled

The bureaucracy is all set to withdraw the cabinet decision regarding provision of electricity to tube-wells at a flat rate of Rs8 per unit with reduction of Rs2 per unit for farmer’s community across the country.

The decision was taken on the ground that it was not doable on account of acute financial constraints.

The PPP government approved the said decision on March 7, 2013 basically to allure the landlords of the country to clinch the general elections and currently the terrorism beleaguered PPP is seen getting the credit in the advertisements for the solace it gave to the farmers.

Sources said the finance ministry recently asked the water and power ministry to place a summary before the caretaker cabinet seeking the annulment of the decision on flat rate as caretaker financial managers and bureaucracy found no fiscal space to absorb the impact of the decision of flat rate for farmer community.

The impact of reduction in power tariff for agriculture tube wells has been worked out at Rs16.54 billion.

The sources said that Ministry of Water and Power had refused to comply with the suggestions of the finance ministry, arguing that it was not opposed to the decision taken by the cabinet of the PPP government.

“And, in case the finance ministry is opposed to the decision, then it should itself move the summary to federal cabinet to get the decision reversed,” said an official of the power ministry.

The power ministry also came up with the rational, mentioning that under the rules of business, in case any pertaining ministry does not act as per the decision of the federal cabinet, then it will be liable to face legal proceedings. Therefore, if the finance ministry wants to undo the decision, then it should itself move the summary.

The federal cabinet of the coalition government headed by PPP had approved the flat rate of Rs8 per unit on March 7, 2013. After the decision, a committee comprising the officials of both the ministries was constituted to work out how to implement the decision and ultimately the same committee issued the orders on April 5 to all the electric power distribution companies to reduce the power tariff by Rs2 from Rs10 to Rs8 per unit for tube wells.

Under the decision, the finance ministry was to provide the subsidy of Rs16.5 billion per annum. “In the light of the decisions of the committee, the finance ministry was to issue the notification, which has so far not been issued. The decision of the federal cabinet meeting of the PPP government has not been enforced,” the official said.

Solar plane takes off on cross-country US trip

MOFFETT AIRFIELD, California: The first-ever manned airplane that can fly by day or night on the Sun’s power alone took off on Friday on the first leg of a trip across the United States.

Solar Impulse, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, left the runway in northern California at 6:12 am (13:12 GMT) against the backdrop of a golden morning sunrise, in what a mission control operator called a “perfect takeoff.”

Flying quietly and slowly at a speed of about 70-km per hour, the plane is scheduled to arrive in Phoenix, Arizona, early on Saturday under cover of darkness.

Solar Plane

“I have almost no wind,” a smiling Piccard said just over an hour into the flight. A dashboard showing the live speed, direction, battery status, solar generator and engine power, along with cockpit cameras of both Piccard and his view from the plane, are online at live.solarimpulse.com. The US itinerary allows for up to 10 days at each stop in order to showcase the plane’s technology to the public. Other stops are planned for Dallas, Texas, and the US capital Washington, before wrapping up in New York in early July.

That will allow two pilots — Piccard and his co-founder, Swiss engineer and ex-fighter pilot Andre Borschberg — to share duties and rest between flights. The project aims to showcase what can be accomplished without fossil fuels, and has set its “ultimate goal” as an around-the-world flight in 2015.

The plane has four electric motors and runs on energy provided by 12,000 solar cells. Longer trips have already been successfully completed by the plane, which made the world’s first solar 26-hour day and night trip in 2010. However, the cockpit has room for just one pilot, so even though the plane could likely make the entire US journey in three days, Piccard decided it would be easier to rest and exchange flight control with Borschberg at rest stops.

Solar Impulse was launched in 2003. The project’s ultimate goal is to fly around the world, with that endeavor scheduled for 2015. The plane can fly at night by reaching a high elevation of 27,000 feet and then gently gliding downward, using almost no power through the night until the Sun comes up to begin recharging the aircraft’s solar cells.

The US journey is being billed as the plane’s first cross-continent flight. The plane completed its first intercontinental journey from Europe to Africa in June 2012 on a jaunt from Madrid to Rabat. The slim plane is particularly sensitive to turbulence and has no room for passengers, but Piccard has insisted that those issues are not setbacks but challenges to be met in the future. The project is designed to push the boundaries of what is possible in aviation by using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. “Our airplane is not designed to carry passengers, but to carry a message,” Piccard has said.