The government is mulling multi-pronged strategy to cope with upcoming power shortage issue during summer despite economic turmoil and rising fuel prices following International Monetary Fund demands.
Since uninterrupted power supply is considered as crucial for development of industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors, its smooth supply to domestic consumers is equally important.
Therefore, the present government is vigorously pursuing the arrangements to overcome load-shedding in coming summer and provide respite to industry and common consumers in scorching heat.
Rising fuel prices and new energy situation after Ukraine war also necessitated Pakistan to utilize its indigenous resources like hydel, solar, wind and Thar coal as it has already announced not to build any new power projects depending on imported coal and ensure 60 percent of its power through local sources by 2030.
'We are taking pragmatic steps to overpower load-shedding by focusing on generation, transmission and energy conservation to provide maximum relief to people,' stated Minister for Power Division Khurram Dastgir.
'The present government has already added 1,980 MW cheap electricity to the system from Thar coal reserves in just 10 months besides 720 MW and 1100 MW from Karot Hydropower and K-3 Nuclear Power Plants,' he added.
Khurram Dastgir said the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) government led by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had successfully added over 10,000 MW electricity to national grid through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects during 2013 to 2018.
'Efforts of the then PML-N government, had not only controlled load-shedding but also surplus power was available in the system,' he remarked. 'But, criminal negligence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government had delayed number of projects draggin the country to darkness once again.'
He informed that total power generation from Thar coal stood at 2640 MW with formal commissioning of 1320 MW Shanghai Electric Thar Coal Project under the CPEC. 'Another 330 MW Thal Nova Thar coal project has already been synchronized in February that would help reduce load-shedding in summer and cut the power tariff.'
Khurram said there were 175 billion tons coal reserves at Thar that were sufficient to generate 100,000 MW electricity. Moreover, Bolan-Gawadar Transmission Line has also been completed to import 100 MW electricity from Iran. 'This project is expected to address power shortage issues in Gawadar as the transmission line would start working in mid of March.'
Regarding 6,000 MW PM's solar energy project, he said the request for proposals to set up first 600 MW solar project at Muzzaffargarh has been sought and open bidding for it would be held on April 17. 'These indigenous power projects would help address energy issues and reduction in power tariff.'
He said over 150,000 industrial and commercial consumers were being shifted to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) System by June to control power pilferage by ensuring round-the-clock monitoring of meters.
The minister informed that bidding process for installing 1-4MW Solar Micro-Grid stations in rural areas is also on cards as the government has already waived sales tax and duties on the purchase of solar panels. 'Easy loans were also being disbursed among the people for installing solar panels on minimum interest rate.'
As the Prime Minister has already inaugurated 1,100 MW K-3 nuclear power plant in Karachi (KANUP) completed with the assistance from China, the government has also embarked on number of initiatives like cutting short the business time, replacement of inefficient electricity equipments, solarization, reduce energy consumption at the government buildings, awareness campaigns and approval of Conservation Policy.
An overview of the measures reveal that solarization of the government entities would save 300 to 500 MW per month, massively slashing the fuel import bill.
Under the National Energy Conservation Plan, judicious utilization of energy would be ensured and early closure of restaurants, hotels, and markets and production of incandescent light bulbs and inefficient electricity fans would help the government save around Rs62 billion annually.
Production of inefficient electricity fans will be stopped from 1st July as they alone consume 12,000MW electricity. Additional duties would be levied on production of such fans to save Rs15 billion. Moreover, stopping production of incandescent light bulbs from 1st February is also helping out the government by saving Rs22 billion.
Usage of streetlights is also being curtailed to 50%, hoping to save Rs 92 billion while all government institutions will install efficient devices to save electricity.
Around 30% reduction in electricity consumption at the government institutions has also been announced while the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority would ensure energy saving campaign through TV and radio channels.
The government has also released Rs 48.560 billion for different projects of National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) and Pakistan Electric Supply Company (PEPCO) under annual Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) during the eight months of the current fiscal year 2022-23.
According to the Planning Commission, the government had allocated Rs 42.983 billion for various NTDC/PEPCO projects with Rs 20.773 billion foreign aid component. A sum of Rs 42.566 billion has been spent so far on various projects with Rs 35.120 billion disbursed under foreign aid component till December 2022.