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Gas geysers, bulbs to be banned

January 14, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The government is considering banning incandescent bulbs and gas geysers in a phased manner to divert energy consumption from conventional sources to alternate sources and free up capacity in national electricity grid and gas transmission system for productive sectors.

A senior government official told Dawn on Monday that the federal government had forwarded a set of recommendations to the provincial governments for a long-term national strategy on reduced reliance on conventional energy sources because earlier attempts for energy conservations could not yield desired results due to poor consultations. The official said the fresh recommendations had been finalised by an inter-provincial committee constituted by Council of Common Interest (CCI).

The committee led by minister for water and power was represented by all four chief secretaries and one technical members from each province.

The provinces have been asked to have in-depth study of the recommendations at provincial level before a national strategy could be announced after approval of the CCI.

The provinces have been asked to conduct in house studies for conversion of street lights from power supplied by distribution companies to solar mode, distribution of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) charging on solar mode.

The committee has recommended the replacement of all existing incandescent bulb with CFLs and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) in phased manner and simultaneously banning manufacturing and import of incandescent bulbs. The committee has recommended that manufacturers of incandescent bulbs (conventional bulbs) should be given a deadline of 6-12 months to upgrade their facilities to manufacturing of CFLs and LEDs.

The committee has also recommended phasing out gas fired geysers and replace them with solar water heaters. It also proposed introduction of micro-solar grids for up to 10 households through micro-financing and has asked the ministry of water and power, energy conservation centre, the Planning Commission and the provincial governments for developing micro-financing models for mini-solar grids.

The official said the replacement of conventional bulbs with CFLs and LEDs and shifting of street lights to solar power had been estimated to free up up to 900mw of electricity from national grid that could reduce countrywide load shedding by about two hours and significantly reduce reliance on expensive furnace oil based power plants on the national grid. The saving could be as much as 20-30 per cent.

Likewise, the diversion of gas fired geysers to solar water heaters was estimated to save about 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in winter months which could be put to use electricity generation of more than 1600mw of cheaper electricity. An official said the gas based power plants produced electricity at about Rs4-5 per unit compared with over Rs16 per unit on furnace oil that could effectively reduce the gap between the cost of electricity production and its consumer-end tariff.

The official said the two of the recommendations of the committee have already been approved by the CCI which required that existing formula of distribution of electricity among distribution companies in practice since 2006 when there was almost no load-shedding may not be changed for the time being and that Kesc should utilise its idle capacity and reduce its import from National Grid by 350mw.

The provinces have been told that the country was facing an acute and growing energy shortage coupled with rapidly rising consumption, depleting domestic oil and gas reserves and escalating international fuel prices.

The electricity shortfall was of grave consequence not only for the national economy but also for the well-being of the citizens.“Gravity of the situation demands that appropriate measures are put in place to reduce the consequences to the economy and society”, said the official. He said the provinces may have to come up with innovative support models to implement recommendations made by the committee of the CCI because they also involved initial costs of the replacement of the existing equipment.