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Tidal power: solution to energy crisis

January 29, 2012

PAKISTAN is facing a power crisis due to reduction in conventional sources of energy. There is a large gap between demand and supply of electricity, which is about 2.5 to five The need for exploring alternative environmental-friendly and renewable energy resources has, therefore, become more foreseeable. Tidal power is the clean and white energy technology, which is available at no fuel cost and minimal running cost. Tides are ultimately due to gravitational interaction with the moon and the sun and the earth’s rotation, tidal power is practically inexhaustible and classified as a renewable energy resource.

Tidal power, sometimes also called tidal energy, is the form of hydro-power that converts the energy of tides into electricity. Potential sites of tidal power in the world are numerous but the largest tidal power station in the world is in the Rance estuary in northern France, near Mont Saint Michel. It was built in 1966 and generates annually 600 million kWh using its 24 turbines of 10 MW. The coastline of Pakistan, which is about 1,045km-long with dominant features, is the best resource for harnessing tidal energy.

Tidal energy resources present in the oceans are of much higher density and better reliability than any other renewable for the likely future.

In Sindh, two sites, creek system of Indus delta of 170km and two to five metres tidal heights at the Korangi Creek, are available to exploit the tidal energy. Sonmiani and Kalamat are also good prospects of tidal energy in Balochistan.

Although tidal power is predictable and available in the form of blocks of energy, it may not solve the energy crisis, but can decrease reliance on fossil fuels. It can spread our energy resources and meet stringent greenhouse gas emission targets. A major drawback of tidal power stations is that they can only generate when the tide is flowing in or out: in other words, only for 10 hours each day. However, tides are totally predictable, so we can plan to have other power stations generating at those times when the tidal station is out of action.

Tidal power has not yet been introduced in Pakistan compared to other renewable energy technologies, but in near future it may play a key role.

Some think that tidal power plants in coastal creeks of Pakistan can serve the energy crisis conundrum up to some level.


Punjab industry

PUNJAB contributes over 60 per cent of the GDP but bears the entire brunt in terms of power shortages.

The most badly affected sector due to energy shortages is the industrial sector, and Punjab is unable to provide energy to this sector.

Punjab houses 60 per cent of the industry with 21,000 industrial units. It consumes 65 per cent of the local national consumption of electricity which means that energy shortage in Punjab means an end to income from industries.

Another consequence is the mass unemployment in Punjab as over 10 million industrial workers, including daily wagers, earn their livelihood from industrial units. Punjab industry is facing acute shortages of both gas and electricity for the last three years with over 700 mmcfd shortage of gas in the SNGPL system and 3300 MW shortage in electricity.

This results in a massive loss in national GDP growth. Sports and surgical goods sectors are facing 50 per cent production loss which is causing a loss of Rs68.77 million daily.

There are 12 fertiliser units in Punjab which are closed due to discontinuation of gas and 4,239 workers have been affected.

There is a 100 per cent loss of production in the fertiliser industry. The net result is loss to Punjab as industry owners are relocating their industry from Punjab to Sindh and abroad.

The textile industry is adversely affected as it makes losses in the shape of taxes and earns less from low production. The loss in export of textile is Rs35 million a day which is a huge loss for Pakistan.

Alone in the textile industry about 19,1100 workers are unemployed but this segment of society is heavily taxed and this is perhaps the main reason for the suicide rate going up. Fertiliser rates are also going up and even at a hefty price the fertiliser is still adulterated and impure. For all this the central government is not to be blamed alone because after the 18th Amendment, it’s the Punjab government’s responsibility to produce energy and use it for provincial consumption but the Punjab government has failed to live up to the people’s expectations.


New gas reserves

ACCORDING to an official report, the gas shortage of one billion cubic feet (bcf) was recorded in 2011 alone, and currently it has increased to 1.8 bcf.

Owing to this the industrial sector, CNG and the power sector have been severely affected. The main reasons described for the peril are rapid surge in the demand and lack of exploration for new gas reserves.

According to a State Bank report, no exploration has been carried out since 1998 to find gas reserves. However, we have already harnessed 49 per cent of the resources out of 54 per cent so far discovered. If the situation prevails, it is estimated that by the year 2016 the demand for gas would escalate to 6.35 bcf and this can lead to annual gas shortage of three billion cubic feet.

To overcome the gas shortage, the government is planning to include 1.5 bcf of LNG in the system, but it could only be helpful to overcome 50 per cent of the gas crisis.

The government is working on the Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline Project, which is a good decision. The government needs to take a few more steps like fast exploration of new gas reserves, privatisation of the energy sector, finding out alternative energy sources, and a single ministry for energy.