Energy crisis and our habbits

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Shahzad Memon

Due to the energy crisis in Pakistan, and in addition to the continuous increase in the prices of oil, gas and electricity, apart from creating problems for consumers, the concerned circles are also raising their voices of protest against the damage caused to agriculture and industries. The federal government is also taking all possible steps to resolve their grievances though the federal government has very limited options as the country itself has been facing this issue since last many years. Where other countries have suffered due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, Pakistan is also suffering from this economic loss, one of the major reasons for which is the fluctuations in global energy prices after Russian-Ukraine war.
The country is as prosperous as it is self-sufficient in the energy sector, but in the last few years, Pakistan has not been able to work in the energy sector at the pace it needed. And here it is also important to write that if the former Prime Minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s government had not been dismissed in the 90s, there is no doubt that Pakistan would have become self-sufficient in the energy sector years ago. Today, the winter season has started. And people’s stoves are cold, factories are not getting gas and this is the story of every year, every government faces this crisis in winters.
In this regard, the use of vast reserves of coal found in the Thar desert of Sindh is a cheap source of energy, the utilization of which is a major development in terms of the country’s economy. This project is the fruit of Pakistan China Economic Corridor under which the first unit generating 660MW of electricity has started working. And it has been connected to the national grid. Under the project, 1320 megawatts of electricity will be generated from Thar coal, which will also be cheaper than hydel. This will help reduce dependence on expensive thermal power, whose bills are becoming unaffordable for the public, especially the low-income earners.
The second unit of the Thar coal project is also being connected to the national grid. From this, the same amount of power will be supplied to the national grid as the first unit is supplying. The units are part of 51 renewable energy projects that have been commissioned or are about to be commissioned across the country. Thar coal power plants have the potential to provide affordable energy to millions of homes in the country and are providing clean energy to the national grid.
These renewable energy projects are being completed by private sector investors thus promoting the use of coal as well as solar energy technology at consumer level in the domestic, commercial and industrial and agricultural sectors. The number of solar installations based on net metering is 591.65, which has reached 350.29 megawatts, which is a good sign for the country suffering from energy crisis.
Along with this good news, there is a moment of concern that due to the rise in international oil and gas prices and consequent increase in the import bill, the government has not been able to achieve the regulatory targets of meeting the energy losses. According to the three-year performance report of the Ministry of Petroleum, the LNG import bill in Pakistan has increased by 91% till June 30, 2022, which has now reached 14 billion 99 billion dollars. The increase in the prices of petroleum products and gas in Pakistan is proportional to the international prices which are constantly increasing. On the one hand, importing oil and gas will not only widen the trade deficit, which will have a negative impact on the economy, but also burden the common consumers who are already burdened with price hikes.
In this situation, the government will have to pay more attention to the use of the country’s internal resources on the one hand, and on the other hand, apart from the import bill, the dependence on oil and gas imports will have to be gradually reduced. The use of thermal coal is a good example in this regard. Pakistan’s long coastline is said to be rich in oil and gas. Attention should also be paid to its exploration, then there are coal and gas reserves in other parts of the country, some of which are being explored, but most of them are waiting to be explored.
But along with all these things we should go for what we have to do at any cost. Closing the markets at 5 pm is very important for us and future generations. This will also save energy and the country’s foreign exchange, which we spend on using more oil and gas than we need, on the other hand, we need to use freight trains to transport goods across the country. While the third and most important thing we have to do is to shift schools, colleges and universities and government buildings to solar where there is a huge use of electricity because people know very well that the bill is not to be paid from their pockets and not from the national exchequer. Apart from this, the practice of walking among our youth has ended. Even when one wants to go from one neighborhood to another, a motorcycle is used. We have to give up such attitudes, in order to save our foreign exchange, we have to minimize the consumption of petrol, diesel, etc. We don’t have dollars but we are reluctant to take steps to end our luxuries, the national leadership will have to take tough decisions now so that the country’s foreign exchange is saved and the energy crisis is averted forever.