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Energy crisis: short-term solutions

June 17, 2013

THE promise of change is coming! The first approach to catch the gas and electrical energy thieves must be supported whole-heartedly because without this nothing will work.

Gas thieves are sponsored by authorities in charge of gas distribution and this can be, and should be, checked immediately. One will be surprised to note the gas availability even if 50 per cent of stolen gas is stopped. This can be done if honest team of engineers are given this task urgently, and gas thieves should be given exemplary punishments as they have ruined our chances of industrial development.

Similarly, electricity thieves need to be caught and, in this, Wapda employees (including Gencos) have a big contribution. Each spoilt employee, getting electricity to sell to huge number of neighbours, needs to be identified and punished since they are the nucleus of further theft. How can they be interested in catching bigger thieves if they are stealing themselves.

After this, the new managers need to check the ‘technical’ losses and this is where the government must talk to industrial and large commercial concerns to conserve.

For gas conservation, follow the policies of sanctioning gas only to efficient combined heat and power (CHP) systems and immediately save 35-40 per cent.

A visit to just one road in Raiwind would show a large number of industries with gas sanctioned for engine- based power generation and then further gas sanction for steam and hot water generation. If these two processes could be combined in CHP, you would notice substantial gas saving (possible up to 40 per cent).

If this example could be repeated in literally thousands of industries, mainly in Punjab and Sindh/Hub areas, we would have a susbstantial change in our energy scenario in one/two years, depending on how fast we can move towards this technology. For large commercial buildings, sanctioning of gas for most inefficient absorption chillers is something we just cannot afford.

Again, if efficient CHP installations are ensured, we can save considerable gas and produce more power to meet the shortages. Combined heat and power systems are sure way of conservation and all developed economies ensure this to remain competitive.

The US, with very large numbers of CHP installations, is enforcing laws to add 80,000 MW of CHP between 2012 and 2020! We are all talking about ‘low- cost’ power and yet we are not using efficient CHP when the gas sanctioning laws only permitted this for a long long time!

We are ready to offer 9.5 US cents to new coal power plants, but we are not ready to accept this price to be paid to industrialists and owners of commercial buildings if they produce additional power with CHP, using the existing sanctioned gas. While the former will involve huge infrastructure, the latter could supply power to the areas around the CHP installations with minimum losses and no chance of theft.

Just ensuring only one split aircondition unit in the house would ensure avoidance of loadshedding for many hours throughout the country. Most of our industries, including Pakistan Steel Mills, are based on inefficient processes, so are most of our buildings, called ‘red’ buildings (and not green for sustainable design).

We have to change and bring efficiency and sustainability in our basic approach, catching thieves and following conservation in our basic attempt to survive.