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In ocean waves, potential to overcome power crisis

A source of alternate, renewable, clean and limitless energy constantly laps at the 990km coastline of the country. Hidden in the movement of waves is a form of energy which holds the future of the power-parched country. The complex creeks network in the Indus deltaic region, extending over 70km along the Arabian Sea, can alone generate 900megawatts of electricity – adequate enough to overcome the power crisis in Karachi, according to a study by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). A team of scientists led by Dr GS Quraishee, a former director general of NIO, conducted the two-year research long ago. But the papers were buried in the archives of the Pakistani bureaucracy – more intent on the lucrative import of oil and enjoying possible kickbacks. Meanwhile, the city planners, showing extreme nearsightedness, even closed the mouths of the river creeks in Karachi that ultimately leads to flooding in the port city during rains. Massive potential Tidal energy has a massive potential for future electricity generation as the whole world moves toward alternate energy, especially wind turbines and solar panels, the study said. The major factors that make tidal power the best form of renewable energy are the never-ending ocean currents and the potential to generate power in megawatts – unlike solar or wind power which produce energy in kilowatts. Water flowing with high velocity during floods and ebb tides (receding tide) is a “favourable requirement” for the extraction of energy from currents, stated the research paper titled “Feasibility studies for the extraction of energy from current and haliohydrogravity along Pakistan coast”. “The bays and lagoons along Makran coast, west of Karachi, have narrow entrances and enclose large sea areas. The salinity in these semi-enclosed areas is higher than the open sea due to the high rate of evaporation. If the narrow entrances of these bays and lagoons are closed artificially, the evaporation will create hydraulic head with higher elevation of water level on the seaside. This head can be utilised for obtaining power. The power resources of the creek system are great assets for future energy supply in the region. The serious power shortage which the industry is facing at Karachi can be adequately met from these resources,” the study claimed. Power-full future With the 18 million population of Karachi groaning under the weight of persistent power outages, it is about time the authorities pay heed to the findings of the study. As the Sindh government seems interested in tapping the alternate energy potential, tidal energy can help resolve the burgeoning power crisis in Karachi. China, Russia and the Asian Development Bank have already offered assistance. In an interview conducted by this scribe as early as June 1988, Prof MAK Lodhi, a renowned Pakistani scientist who taught at the Texas Technical University and was listed in the “World Who’s Who”, had said that huge amounts of usable energy could be tapped from the never exhausting tidal energy at very cheap rates. NIO investigations carried out at all the main creeks of Indus delta, including Korangi Creek, Phitti Creek, Chan Waddo Creek, Khuddi Creek, Khai Creek, Paitiani Creek, Dabbo Creek, Bhuri Creek, Hajamaro Creek, Khobar Creek, Qalandri Creek, Kahr Creek, Bachiar Creek, Wari Creek and Kajhar Creek showed that about 900MW can be generated from tides. Korangi, Phitti and Chan Waddo creeks, all located near Karachi, have a potential for power production and the estimated power available is 174MW, 78MW and 280MW respectively. Profitable market The tidal power sector has a market worth GBP20 billion in the United Kingdom alone and GBP500 billion worldwide. The world’s first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) became operational in France in 1966. This 240-MW plant is the world’s second largest tidal power station after the 254-MW Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant in South Korea. In the emerging scenario where developed countries were increasingly tapping environment-friendly option of tidal energy, one wonders why the power is not being exploited in Pakistan, officials say. A commission, launched by environmental group Greenpeace, studied how Scotland could tap the power in ocean waves for generating electricity. Australian scientists dream about the day when they can get enough power from the surf-friendly waves along the country’s southern coast to meet the country’s electricity demands. According to The Economist April 2007, politicians in Oregon dream of generating all the state’s power from the Pacific Ocean. Britain’s Carbon Trust, a government-funded company that proffers help with the cutting of greenhouse emissions, says 20 percent of the national energy could come from the sea.  

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