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Solution to energy crisis

ACCORDING to energy rules in Pakistan, the government pays a minimum agreed monthly payment to all power producers for the contract period, even if no power is supplied. This means that if a power plant is not operating, the government would still need to pay the energy bill.

In 2008, eight thermal power plants and two nuclear power plants of Pakistan were shut down.

With reduced supply of electricity, Wapda has fewer units to sell and thus has less income in a year. But the payments to thermal power companies was at a fixed rate, creating an energy deficit worth $100 million.

Although fuel supplies and payments to thermal power plants can be increased to produce more energy, with low efficiency the energy produced will be at a very high cost.

Therefore, the best option is to install 5,000 MW coal power plants in locations that are away from population centres, near the port or other transport facility and close to the national grid.

Pakistan can generate 55,000 MW of electricity, which can even be sold to Afghanistan, India, China and Oman. This is because Pakistan’s northern parts rise like a series of steps, which create opportunities for hydel power.

But these big and small hydropower plants can take two to six years to construct, and with dams there is an additional two to five years for filling them. But the good news is that banks and donor organisations would like to fund hydropower projects because this is clean renewable energy, which does not produce any pollution and has a life of 30 to 50 years.

Also, Pakistan can use hydropower and even wind power projects for self-funded pension schemes, where Pakistani citizens can buy shares in a project which would give them a regular income for 25 years.

Wind power is also a good option, since Sindh and Balochistan have good wind rates and there is an opportunity to generate up to 50,000 MW of energy with wind power from that region alone.

ENGR H. KALEEM

Peshawar

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