Energy Central Professional

 

Factors behind costly power shortfall


The News International  

 

    The lack of funds for fuel purchases, low hydropower generation and high power demand amid a record-breaking heatwave continue to have major ramifications on electricity supply this summer.

    Witnessing a strong power demand amid a record heatwave, power managers have been clueless in their strive to bridge the gap between electricity demand and supply, leaving consumers high and dry during extended periods of unannounced outages.

    The low availability of fuel including regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG), coal and oil for power generation have further strained thermal power units in addition to under-utilization of hydroelectric plants to an extent where some of them have to be shut down temporarily.

    With the widening gap between power demand and supply to about 7,000MW or nearly 25 percent, the country's energy crisis continues to intensify with every passing day, causing as much as 10 hours of shutdowns daily in urban areas and 14 hours loadshedding in villages. The duration of crippling power loadshedding is even longer in areas with high line losses.

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    According to sources, demand of electricity in the country went through the roof to an estimated 28,100MW while the supply faltered at 21,200MW. One of the main reasons for long hours of outages has been the shutting down of thermal plants due to shortages of oil, gas and coal over lack of finances.

    The independent power producers (IPPs) like Hubco, Lalpir and PakGen closed down due to the dearth of fuel, which is primarily an outcome of mismanaged affairs of the power sector. The imported coal-based power plants are also said to be running on 25pc less output due to the unavailability of fuel. The same is the case with hydropower in the country.

    Against the capacity of 9,000MW, only around 4,400MW of electricity is being generated from hydropower plants purely due to abysmally low inflows in rivers on the back of persistent drought conditions. The cut in hydropower, which typically supplies about one-third of summer electricity demand, put more burden on thermal plants.

    As per official data, the power shortfall however has been pegged at 5,200MW. Owing to lack of ample power generation, 2,700MW less supply of electricity was recorded at different power distribution companies while consumers living in high-losses feeders are being subjected to power cuts of nearly 2,500MW daily.

    The punishing outages have made the lives of people miserable and they have been sandwiched between adverse effects of the heatwave and lack of power for long hours. The grim picture of the power sector shows the extent of the energy crisis at a time when seasonal power demand has been seen growing at the fastest rate due to multiple factors.

    As per the official estimates, bad news is much worse as the present shortfall of power would continue at least for a couple of months even after an increase in river flows by mid-June. The higher reliance on costly fuels of oil, natural gas and coal simply means inflated monthly bills for end-consumers.

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