Think outside the box


The good news for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is that Ismail Food Industries is all set to quite literally dig into the province’s hydro-electrical potential by generating 40.1 megawatts of electricity. This is an extremely encouraging development. KP is home to half of the country’s untapped river-based energy resources.
Pakistan needs more of this sort of thing, much more.
The PM is fully on board when it comes to having others invest to counter the country’s ongoing water security woes. Unfortunately, he has taken it upon himself to outsource all this to the world’s biggest hub for knock-off goods.
In not-so-behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealings, the government asked Beijing to help it out of a dry spell by washing away Pakistan’s water insecurities. This is because WAPDA has identified immense hydropower potential, amounting to a total of 60,000MW. Of this, a whopping 40,000MW falls along the Indus Cascade area, from Skardu to Tarbela. China has been happy to comply, promising to effectively bail Pakistan out of its water insecurity by including all Indus projects under the CPEC umbrella. This has worked out well for both sides. Pakistan will not have to put itself out to dry quite so much. And Beijing will make money on the returns. For Pakistan is signed up to pay a total of $90 billion against CPEC loans, which amounts to a 40 percent profit approximately.
In peak season, Pakistan’s hydro-electricity generation accounts for nearly 6,611 MW. This comes mostly from thermal power plants, which produce almost 65 percent electricity or 14,635 MW. The production costs, however, remain high given that these plants run on furnace and diesel oil. Besides tapping hydropower, a more affordable and environmentally safe energy mix is needed to meet this challenge.
Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, solid waste, biomass and LNG-based power plants can help overcome our energy crisis. Another source of producing electricity can be bio-fertilizer and recycling of solid waste. Here the role of private sector is vital. With the right incentives Pakistani businesses can step in to help the government.
Unless the government decides to set up power generation plants from renewable sources and hydropower, the energy crisis may not go away. Although the initial cost of setting up a hydropower plant is high, the government can finance smaller power plants that will ultimately decrease the load on the national grid and would give cheaper electricity for many years to come. The utilisation of hydropower resources, both on a large and small scale, is the need of the hour. Pakistan’s planners and policymakers need to think outside the box find solutions to the energy crisis that refuses to go away.