Pakistan has been faced with power crises and its multiplier effect on the economy for decades. This issue has been reviewed extensively and many options have been debated by experts at private and governmental level. I would like to add my views to this important debate which surely requires quick action. In order to have a coherent and meaningful debate on this subject, it’s critical to divide this topic into two distinct parts – transmission and distribution (T&D or Discos), and generation. While T&D could be further divided into two parts but for the purpose of discussions in this write-up, this would be discussed in tandem/together. Part 1 of this article will cover the issues in T&D and their possible solutions whilst Part 2 will discuss the solutions for the challenges on the generation front.
The most interesting fact is that the predominant reason for load shedding has been shifted from the conventional shortfall of most viable/economical generation capacity to the ability of T&D, basically Discos, to carry more than 15000 MW at a given point in time to the end consumers. Not that the constraints of generation capacity have disappeared, and hence this shift, but it’s just that these deficits have been overtaken by the impediments of T&D – in 2008, ~11% of the electricity loadshedding was attributable to the bottlenecks at the level of Discos, as opposed to ~65% in 2014, as per the data provided by NTDC.
Solutions for the two divisions are very different given, of course, the distinct nature of the two businesses. The solution to take care of the generation is a bit more complex and strategic/long-term in nature; while the issues of Discos are more operational/managerial in nature and are fixable in the short to medium term. The element of large funding requirement, however, in both the cases, is common.
Stated above is a solution to address the immediate power shortages for which the estimated timeline is 1-3 years. For the medium-term (4-6 years), coal, particularly that which is locally mined. The long-term (7 year and beyond) solution vests in hydropower projects. To achieve a proper fuel mix, alternate fuels to the extent of say 1/4th of that, is an absolute essential from the long-term energy security perspective. This can be achieved at the lowest possible costs which should not cross single digit ever.
This thesis makes the argument for consolidated Energy Ministry (merger of Ministry of Water and Power and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources) more cogent. There seemed to be divergent priorities/views of the two Ministries – for example, the allocation of natural gas to power sector is low on the priority list of the MoP&NR, while it is, and should be, top of the MoW&P priority order. The resolution of the circular debt issue can also be best managed and resolved, if the two ministries are consolidated.
Out of the Box
Portfolio of Selected Newspaper Write-Ups
2014 — 2020
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