Can the government tackle the energy crisis? Doing so in the long run may be possible, but in the immediate term, consumers must begin using more energy-efficient products in order to mitigate the issue, reveals the report "Energy Conservation: Avoid Wastages, Prevent Shortages" by Research and Advocacy for the Advancement of Allied Reforms (Raftaar).
The average shortfall in the power sector is 4,000 MegaWatts, and nearly two billion cubic feet per day (BCFD) in the natural gas sector.
The shortfall in the power sector can rise to around 7,000MW or 32pc of total demand for electricity.
Chronic power shortage, in the form of load-shedding and power outages, costed the Pakistan economy Rs14 billion (7pc of GDP) last year.
Over 140 million Pakistanis either have no access to the power grid or suffer over 12 hours of load-shedding daily. Pakistanis who do not have access to the grid are often poorer than those on the grid. Meanwhile, household electricity consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 10pc yearly.
500,000 households are impacted with unemployment as businesses have been forced to shut down due to energy shortages.
In the last five years, Pakistan has taken a hit of Rs145 billion per annum from system losses in the grid due to inefficient transmission and distribution.
Investment in the power sector has fallen to 0.7pc of the GDP in the last 10 years, from a high of 1.5pc during the 1980s and 1990s.
Rs30 billion is the approximate expenditure by Pakistani households on UPS and battery chargers alone. About 60pc of Pakistani households have some form of UPS as a backup for selected appliances during power cuts and shortages. Backup power sources are a stopgap solution, both wasteful and inefficient.
Although the government is attempting to add capacity to the grid in order to remedy the persistent power shortage, these measures will take time to come into effect.
A more immediate solution to the problem is the conservation and efficient use of energy, as about 67pc of domestic energy consumption stems from inefficient appliances such as lights and fans.
Another alternative is to shift to renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar power.
There is enough potential from wind generation to supply all of Pakistan's electricity needs. Half this potential exists in one contiguous belt of Sindh coastline.
There are around 1.2m irrigation pumps installed in Pakistan, with about 90pc of these pumps using diesel directly or indirectly.
The use of solar irrigation pumps for agricultural purposes instead of diesel-powered or tractor driven pumps could mean a 27pc saving in consumption of diesel fuel for irrigation pumping.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is another way Pakistan could turn towards cleaner forms of energy, as China is a world leader in total wind and solar installed renewable energy, at about 140,000MW.
Punjab must lead the way in this initiative, as the province is home to the largest population in Pakistan and consumes the most electricity. About 90pc of all tubewells are also in Punjab.
The Raftaar report says the greatest responsibility and opportunity lies with the province to improve energy efficiency and conservation in agriculture, as well as in households and businesses.
Raftaar is an economic reform platform whose knowledge partners include a coalition with the CDRP (Consortium for Development Policy Research), which is itself a consortium of Pakistan’s top economists and economic think tanks (including the International Growth Centre, Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives and Center for Economic Research in Pakistan).
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