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Politics and power crisis

May 03, 2013

DURING their election campaigns, the leaders of both the PML-N and PTI have said that if voted to power, they will end loadshedding in three years.

The people seem to have pinned a lot of hopes on these two parties and they think that the problem of loadshedding would be resolved as soon as any one of these parties forms a government after the elections.

The people had enough of it. They wouldn’t be ready to tolerate any replay of the era that they have gone through during the last five years.

When both Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan say that they will end loadshedding in three years, it puts cold water on the hopes of the nation. One is at a loss to know as to why such a long duration is being promised by these two leaders whereas the problem can be solved in just a day as had been done during the last regime of the PPP when its very existence was threatened due to the violent protests against power outages throughout the country.

The PPP’s government sensed the mood of the public and hurriedly released funds for the purchase of oil for the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) whose generators, in turn, started producing electricity.

Hence, the real problem behind the existing spell of loadshedding isn’t power generation, rather it’s the non - availability of funds. Now, a million dollar question: how to generate these funds?

This should be left to the economic gurus of the next government. Even if the people are burdened a bit due to increase in power rates, they would swallow this bitter pill once more, provided they see for themselves some solid steps being taken in this regard and assured that loadshedding wouldn’t be resorted to in future.

In view of the above, it is suggested that the party coming to power in the next elections shouldn’t start on the wrong foot right from the beginning. It is also suggested that besides ending the current loadshedding on war - footing, efforts should be made to end the menace of circular debt on a permanent basis, converting the existing power generation equipment from oil to coal, reducing power losses/thefts, exploiting local resources for the generation of electricity through alternative means, revamping the existing inefficient power generation plants and, lastly, eradicating massive corruption in the power sector.

As the summer season has set in, the situation is becoming all the more precarious. Power outages of 16 to 22 hours duration are already in vogue in many parts of the country. What will happen when the weather will get hotter and be at its peak during the coming months?

A.A. KHAN Rawalpindi

Some suggestions THIS is apropos the news item ‘SC calls for maximum power generation’ (April 28). I have forwarded my opinion on generating electricity to the Pakistan Engineering Council think - tank on energy.

The same are reproduced for the benefit of the Supreme Court. It comprises the following six methods:

Windmill energy: It has two main components of wind turbine and alternators. Both can be manufactured locally. This requires the services of local industries. Each industry can undertake this project keeping in view their energy needs.

The energy thus produced will be at industry expense without relying on the Wapda supply. The 50 megawatt Gampir project has started producing energy and has the capacity of producing 250 MW. This is indeed an encouraging start and can be a guideline for many other similar projects.

Solar energy: This is also a short-term project and can last for 25 years after installation, as the main factor is the life of solar panels. This requires only mono/poly/micro crystalline solar panels, batteries of 12 volts, charge controllers and invertors. All can be manufactured locally except solar panels which can be procured from China/Italy and subsequently be produced indigenously.

Biogas: Recently, an engineer from Multan fabricated a plant which requires manure of five to eight animals. This mode of producing energy in rural areas is recommended where it is available in abundance.

Waste - to - energy plants: Municipal and industrial waste can be burnt in incinerators at 800C plus in urban areas, especially in main cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Quetta. Eight thousand tons of municipal waste can produce 10 MW of electricity.

Thar coal project: It can be categorised as a long - term project.

Underground coal gasification is commercially proven project which is getting delayed for want of funds. There are 12 blocks at Thar where coal can be utilised for generation of power.

Use of energy - saver bulbs is recommended which consume one - third of power as compared to incandescent fluorescent bulbs. The government may provide funds for setting up plants in all provinces for producing these bulbs.

There is an urgent need to tackle energy crisis on a short - term basis as maximum gap between supply and demand is 6,000 MW which can be bridged by starting above projects, except Thar coal.

Industrialists, without looking towards government, can manage on their own to solve the energy problem and also promote their businesses. Once they succeed in setting up facilities in their premises, they will get orders from other quarters suffering due to loadshedding.

This will be a sound investment by industrialists. The All - Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) may also seriously focus on this by setting up its own facilities in order to resolve their energy shortage.

I assure all industrialists that these suggestions can help to a great extent in resolving their energy issues. Furthermore, talent and expertise is available in Pakistan. The Punjab government has given permission to set up plant of any kind generating electricity up to 50 MW.

I hope other provinces will also follow the example in overcoming their energy problems.

I would also recommend that shortfall can be easily bridged if we put our efforts in generating electricity simultaneously instead of banking only on hydel source due to unavailability of water to generate electricity.

ENGR LT-CDR (r) RIAZ AKBAR Former Project Director Nescom Wah Cantt