Tackling the energy crisis

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According to Pakistan Energy Year Book 2012, Pakistan’s installed capacity for power generation is 22,797MW and the demand is approximately the same. The question arises that if the demand and supply has no gap then why we are facing 15-20 hours unannounced load shedding across the country that is hurting our national economy. To get the answer we need to look into Pakistan’s electricity generation mix fuel wise. Oil and gas has 64.2 percent share in electricity generation portfolio of the country and hydel share is 29.9 percent.

Pakistan is generating 35.2 percent of its electricity from furnace oil and diesel oil that is mostly imported. Pakistan consumed more than 7.4 million tons of oil equivalents of furnace oil and diesel oil in 2011-12 for electricity generation. The per unit cost of electricity generated from imported furnace oil and diesel oil is high and is expected to increase further due to high forecasted increase in the oil prices.

The per unit price of electricity generated from furnace oil is neither viable for industrial consumers nor for domestic consumers. Natural Gas share for electricity generation is 29 percent. According to Pakistan Energy Year Book, 2012, Pakistan has 26.65 trillion cubic feet (TCF) balance recoverable gas reserves. Current gas production is 4.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) and the demand is 6 bcfd. The gas production is expected to fall to less than 01 bcfd by 2025 due to depletion and demand will increase to 8 bcfd. While depleting the indigenous natural gas reserves, about one third of the natural gas is used for electricity generation (29 percent) causing a severe domestic and industrial load shedding.

That has significantly damaged country’s export earnings and increased the import bill. The proposed Iran gas pipeline and TAPI pipe lines would provide about 02 bcfd only. In response to a demand of 8 bcfd, we will be having 3 bcfd in 2025 if both the proposed projects are completed. The gap will be 5 bcfd. In the light of above elucidated facts, it is evident that it will not be possible to feed gas based power plants in future that contribute 29 percent of the power generation. In the light of above discussion, it is evident that electricity generated from oil and gas is not an economically feasible option and the installed capacity of about 15000MW (64.2 percent) out of 22797MW would not be operational.

This heavy reliance on imported oil depleting gas reserves is a clear energy security threat. The International Energy Agency has forecasted that total electricity demand of the country will be 49078MW in 2025. This is a great challenge to enhance the installed capacity to 50,000MW from operable 7000MW. Supply and demand gap is continuously widening that is an alarming situation despite the fact that rural areas are mostly deprived of electricity infrastructure. Electrification will be a major demand of the deprived rural population in next five years.Currently, Pakistan is generating 6551MW of electricity from hydel sources that is 29.9 percent of the total installed capacity. If country completes all the proposed hydel projects including Bhasha Dam, the hydel contribution would be 15000MW until 2025 that is 29 percent of the total demand in 2025.

The unit price of solar electricity is even higher than oil-fired power generation. Therefore, solar is not a feasible option under the circumstances. As for as wind energy is concerned, its unit price is higher than hydel and coal power. The biggest challenge is to redesign the electricity portfolio and substitute the oil and gas with an abundantly available indigenous fuel source. Pakistan must develop indigenous energy resources to meet its future electricity needs. Pakistan can overcome this energy crisis by utilising its un-used coal reserves.Facts:Currently, 40.6 percent of world’s electricity is being generated from coal and it is the single largest contributor in world electricity generation.

By looking at the electricity generation mix of the countries that are blessed with coal, it is evident that coal is the largest contributor. For instance, Poland, South Africa, China, India, Australia ,Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Germany, USA, UK, Turkey , Ukraine and Japan are generation 96 percent, 88 percent, 78 percent, 78 percent, 77 percent, 72 percent, 69.9 percent, 52.5 percent, 52 percent, 37 percent, 31.3 percent, 27.5 percent and 22.9 percent of electricity from coal. Pakistan is the only country that is blessed with 185 billion tons of coal and is producing negligible electricity from coal 0.1 percent). Thar deposit alone is estimated to be 175 billion tons. It is further estimated that if all the Thar coal is extracted out and converted into electricity through coal fired power plants, it can provide 100,000MW for more than 500 years.

There is a dire need to devise a strategy to utilise  country’s coal reserves for power generation.We at the Centre for Coal Technology has the largest data bank on the thermal characteristics of Pakistani coals. Thar coal is different from rest of the available coals exist in the country. It has about one percent sulphur and less than ten percent ash that make it ideally suited for power generation. Higher inherent moisture content of the coal can easily be dried up to 14 percent prior to despatch to power houses through natural drying in the desert.

Thar coal does not require any pre-treatment for up-gradation before use in power stations.Rest of the coals located in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan , KPK and Kashmir contain higher sulphur and ash contents and require pre-treatment of de-ashing and de-sulfurization prior to use is power stations in conjunction with a circulatory fluidized bed combustion technology for power generation .

Courtesy:  Nation

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