Management of energy crises in Pakistan


Pakistan at present is facing acute power shortages which have led the government to resort to load shedding, as a tool, to manage the power crises. To add to the problem, it occurred in the hot months of the year, which made the life of the common man miserable, where long power breakdowns have led to extreme inconvenience and discomfort to the people.

Industry, trade, agriculture are all suffering, adversely affecting the economic activity. All these put together will have a cumulative negative impact on economic growth. Long term solution to this problem is to generate more power. This needs proper forecasting of the demand and taking the necessary actions to install sufficient capacities to meet the demand of the country.

Non-availability of sufficient power has a negative impact on investments, both local and foreign. The basic infrastructure, includes the availability of power as an essential requirement and a key component for accelerated economic growth. The Government should take the necessary steps to generate power to match the demand on a war footing. We should take some steps to ease the situation, in the short run, to help alleviate the problem of the masses.

Agriculture is using power to run tubewells, as our canal system can only suffice a certain percentage of the water needs for crops. Similarly the industry stops production due to non-availability of electricity, which has a multidimensional effect in the form of lower production and lower employment.

In times of shortages it is common sense to look to your consumption pattern and to look into leakages, or over-spending, or where a certain reduction in the consumption of electricity will result in lesser inconvenience to help solve the problem. Austerity is the need of the hour, and awareness to save is of prime importance.

Many nations have come out of such a situation through the optimal utilisation of their resources. A nation can rise to the situation, if it is led in the right direction. A nation can willingly face inconvenience, if they are convinced that the steps taken are for solving the problem on a permanent basis.

The first and the most important thing is to know where we are using our existing electricity, which is, at present, generated in the country. Unless we know our exact consumption pattern, we cannot make plans for saving and easing the situation in the short run. Let us see the present consumption of electricity, per economic group and sectors.


— Source: Pakistan Hydrocarbon Institute

ECONOMIC SURVEY OF PAKISTAN 2006-07: From the above, it is clear that households consume 45.1 % of the total electricity generated. It is another point to ponder whether consuming almost 50% of the electricity in households is desirable or prudent economic policy. It would have been a different situation if the same electricity would have been used in industries and agriculture, where its use would result in more productivity and higher economic activity.

This would have ultimately resulted in accelerated economic growth. At the present it is not the point of our discussion. At the moment, we are exploring the possibilities of saving electricity in a more prudent way in different economic sectors, thereby reducing the scourge of loadshedding.

It is clear that household, industry, agriculture and commercial sectors account for more than 80 % of the consumption of electricity. We have to look into the possibilities of saving in these sectors, without compromising economic activity and the convenience of the general public.

Drawing a parallel from the medical field, when a patient is brought into an emergency room in a critical condition, the doctor’s first priority, by training, is to stabilise the condition of the patient, so that a future medication plan, to cure the patient, can be undertaken. So doctors immediately put the patient on oxygen and give the necessary injections to stabilise the patient’s condition. Similarly, in our present situation, we have to take some non-conventional and not very popular actions to save electricity, rather than the easiest way of handling it by loadshedding.

The above dictum provides us a clue towards short term solutions. As many watts as we can save are as good as if we have generated the additional electricity. In order to explore the venues of saving these much needed watts we have to look into the consumption of electricity by major sectors of the users. We give below the consumption of the major economic sectors:

Exact figures of consumption of electricity in each category are not available to us, but we can safely say that per capita consumption would be the highest in the products falling under category “C”. However, the products under category C are used by a small percentage of the population, mostly living in the urban areas. The need for austerity in category C cannot be denied, however the impact and possible saving would not be that substantial.

We suggest fiscal measures to control the use of these products where one should pay the price for using these products, and most of the time this group can pay it as they are economically in a position to pay for it (ie the way higher duties and taxes are levied on luxury cars and imports above certain CCs are not allowed or discouraged).

From the above study it is clear that category A and Category B are the two potential categories where substantial savings can be achieved because consumers have a very large number of these products ie lighting, fans, TV, etc consume a major chunk of the electricity. In no way we can classify these products as luxury items as they are an essential requirement for the present day living.

Instead of depriving the consumer of these products, by loadshedding for hours, we can achieve the much needed saving by using energy saving products. In order to explore the possibilities of saving we again have to look into the products being used by the public for these categories.

We don’t have the exact facts and figures about fans and motors. We can later on give some recommendations, which are definitely going to result in a substantial saving of electricity.

We would like to discuss, in detail, lighting, which is one of the major sources of consumption of electricity. We can achieve substantial saving in the consumption of electricity if managed rightly.

As already said earlier that almost +80 % of electricity is used by the four sectors (household, industry, agriculture and commercial). If we have to achieve substantial savings, these areas need to be explored for saving electricity. It can be safely assumed that 30% of the electricity generated is consumed for lighting purposes, in the household, industries and commercial sectors.

Just to have to an idea of the consumption of electricity by lighting sources we give below the production and import figures of the most common lighting sources, for the year 2007 as released by the Government of Pakistan. Part of the product is used for replacement and part of it is for new lighting points.

As can be seen from the above calculations, that if all the sources burned for one hour, the electricity consumed could be 9141 million watts. GLS accounts for almost 84% of electricity consumed for lighting. Since Edison invented the incandescent lamp, it has been the most commonly used and is a convenient and cheap source of lighting. At the same time it is the most inefficient light source.

In the developed countries, the use of GLS lamps is discouraged. In Asia Pacific, the government has taken steps to stop the production and import GLS lamps totally by 2011. In Pakistan it is not practical to ban the use of GLS lamps in the short run, because of the lower purchasing power of the masses. This means that the GLS remains a lighting source at least in the near future.

Our manufacturers and importers and the government, have not paid attention to the production of GLS lamps and its wattage. In Pakistan, the most common lamps used are of 100 watts and 60 watts, with very little quantities of 25 and 40 watts. In the Asia Pacific the most common wattage are 40 watts and 25 watts.

In our neighbouring country India, the bulk of the lamps produced are 25 watts, 40 watts and 60 watts. There is no production of 200 watts in India. Further, all these countries promoted TL, as a major source of light. In Asia Pacific, the ratio of GLS verses TL is 1:1 whereas in Pakistan it is 1:5.

In most cases in the rural areas and low-income localities, the GLS lamps are the first transition from the oil lamp. We can very easily save electricity by rationalising the wattage produced in the country and bringing them to same wattage as used in the Asia Pacific and banning the production of any wattage above 60 watts. This will result in substantial saving of electricity in the short run and also help the poor to cope with the ever-increasing prices of electricity. This will help the government in the management crises without much investment and hassle.

ENERGY SAVERS: No doubt energy savers lamps are one of the most efficient sources of lighting based on lumens per watt. Their benefit can be accrued provided one lamp is replaced with one inefficient lamp.

If we remove one inefficient lamp with, say ten energy savers, the electricity which was supposed to be saved is nullified by the increased number of points. In Pakistan, especially in the commercial sector and also in other areas, number of electric points have increased in geometrical proportion.

You just have to take a walk around the bazaars and shops. You will observe that where for example 4 TLs were used previously, more than 20-30 energy savers are used, usually of 24 watts. It had become a trend to use energy savers as a means of decorating shops, bazaars, showrooms, marriage halls and eating places. This results in more consumption of electricity.

HYPOTHETICAL CALCULATIONS OF ELECTRICITY SAVING BY RATIONALIZING THE WATTAGE OF GLS: We give below the hypothetical calculations of saving, if we rationalise GLS wattage, in line of with the Asia Pacific and create an awareness against the misuse of energy savers and promote use of TL and energy savers in households, especially in the low and middle income groups.

From the above calculations it is clear that we can save (9141 million-6316 million =2825 million watts), by simply stopping the use of 100 Watts and above wattage of GLS and promoting 25 and 40 Watts. This saving is almost equal to +30% of the existing use of electricity for lighting.

As per the government figures we have approximately 20000 megawatts generation capacity. 45.1% of this capacity is used by the household sectors, which come to 9020 megawatts. 30% electricity, which is consumed by lighting comes to 2706 megawatts. The proposed measures will results in 30% saving, which comes to 811 megawatts.

SOME REFLECTIONS: The above calculations have been made by a non-technical man, rather a student of light marketing. The above calculations need to be checked by experts. Although, we can understand that using a most inefficient light source, in very high wattage, is not a prudent policy. We are not only wasting precious electricity, but also hurting consumers by way of inflated bills by using higher wattage.

What is needed is the message that it is not the cost of the lamp but the cost of its burning which is important. We cannot eliminate GLS lamp as a light source, but we should reduce the wattage of GLS being used.

Gradually shifting to fluorescent lighting, that is to TL and energy saver is the long term solution. We have enough installed capacity, on which millions of rupees have been spent. We should optimally utilize these capacities. The government should give generous incentives to the industries, in the form of fiscal and taxation measures.

Further financial cost of producing should be reduced by supplying gas and other inputs at very special rates. This will make the cost of TL affordable for the low income group to switch over from GLS to TL.

Further, a promotional campaign is needed to create awareness among the masses and to motivate them to use TL. In addition, by law, all big commercial plazas, offices, buildings, large industries should be made to use electronic ballast to reduce line losses.

Government should give special incentives and facilities for local production of energy savers in the country. If need be the government should start producing energy savers in the public sector, if the private sector is not responding. It is essential that end prices of the product should be such that it is affordable for low income households to switch over to energy savers. An awareness campaign to stop the misuse of energy savers should be launched.

While we appreciate the government resolve to distribute 10 million energy savers at subsidised rates or free of cost, yet it is a step in the wrong direction. It will not achieve the desired result and create in chaotic conditions in the light markets. It will cost the government 1000 million rupees to distribute these lamps. The same money can be used to put up a production plant.

Our suggestion is that the government should distribute 60-40-25 watts among the low income group by replacing 100 and 60 watts free of charge, and making sure to destroy the replaced lamps. The caps of the destroyed lamps should be the proof of the transaction.

The GLS lamp has a shorter life, but once people use the low wattage lamp, chances are, that they will replace it again with a low wattage lamp. Further, consumer will also enjoy lower electricity costs as a result of use of lower wattage.

The time has come for the International Energy Conservation charter to be implemented in Pakistan. All the electrical designs and lighting designs of large buildings and plazas should be cleared by the government according to their adherence to the laid down standards. Architects should design projects that use daylight as much as possible.

Lighting is one sector. Large electricity saving can be achieved by having standards implemented on the production of electric fans and electric wires that are locally produced and, washing machines, electric irons. Use of air-conditioning should be made expensive.

Only those nations rise to the need of the hour who are ready to accept temporary inconveniences with patience and fortitude for the national interest. If Pakistan is to progress more electricity should be available for the industries, agriculture, commercial sectors. More electricity for these sectors will result in more production and greater economic activity. The steps recommended would result in reducing loadshedding bringing much needed relief to the general public.



Source: Business Recorder, 15/7/2008

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