The Current Energy Crisis In Pakistan
For over a decade Pakistan has been battling an ongoing energy crisis, looming over its economy like a shadow of death. The widened demand and supply gap is a chokehold on Pakistan’s progress, and simultaneously pushes the nation in to darkness, both literally and metaphorically.
It is a well-known fact that energy in all its quantum and forms, is the essence of industrialization. Under the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor, China proposes to restore the soul of Pakistan’s industries.
Classification of Power Projects
The power projects developing in Pakistan under the CPEC include:
* Solar Power Projects
* Wind Power Projects
* Hydel Power Projects
* Coal Power Projects
These initiatives are aimed towards bridging the power supply gap in Pakistan, which in turn, will set the wheel of development in motion. While industrialization is perhaps the most vital contributing factor in the economic growth of a country it is not without certain repercussions.
Difference Between Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy
Renewable energy, or otherwise termed as sustainable energy refers to sources which replenish with time. These are clean methods of producing energy as there are no carbon emissions that are substantially detrimental to the environment.
Contrary to them are the non-renewable energy resources. These are exhausted with use and therefore are not economically sustainable, and also produce environmentally hazardous carbon emissions.
Analysis of The Power Projects Developing In Pakistan
Solar Power Project
Upon completion, The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Plant, located in Bhawalpur Punjab, will potentially be the largest photovoltaic power plant in the world. P.V power plants comprise of Photovoltaic cells which directly convert sunlight in to electricity.
With the help of auxiliary mini-grids, a photovoltaic power plant provides continuous electric supply to remote areas which aren’t connected to the national grid. In addition to this, power production using solar energy does not cost its users their environment, as the only major costs attached with these projects are monetary in nature.
The inconsistent storage of sunlight (it being a weather dependent factor), generates fluctuating quantities of energy and is perhaps the most conspicuous disadvantage to this method of power production.
Despite the downsides, it is a favoured renewable energy resource around the globe today, and is rapidly replacing the conventional methods of power production.
Wind Power Projects
Situated in Jharo and Jhimpir in Thatta, Sindh, the wind power projects are yet another way of generating clean energy. The wind turbines make use of kinetic energy of the wind and convert it into electrical energy through the process of electromagnetism. The Dawood Wind Power Project along the lines of the city of Banbhore, Sindh, consists of 33 wind turbines and is assumed to generate an aggregate of 50,000MW.
The amount of electricity produced is dependent upon the length of the turbine blades along with the size of the turbine itself, while the speed and frequency of the wind is the major determining factor.
While wind power projects are a clean, environment friendly way of energy production, the amount of electricity generated is frequently questioned in light of storage issues; resultant of varying wind speeds. This makes room for criticism and speculations aimed at the projects.
Hydel Power Projects
Comprising of fundamentally the Suki Kinari and Karot Hydel Power Projects in Khyber-Pakhtun-Khwa and Punjab, respectively, are expected to generate an aggregate of 1,590MW of electricity.
Reliant mainly on the water cycle for energy generation, with minimal harm to the environment, hydropower plants are characterised as the greenest energy resource. Rather, it facilitates in agricultural usage around the vicinity.
Hydropower plants are constructed over large areas due to the requisite storage of water in the form of dams. The amount of electrical energy generated from the energy present in the water is determined by the volume of water and the height from which the water flows from.
While hydroelectricity is light on the stratosphere it is quite heavy on the landscape of the country, as it is preceded by the construction of dams and may even include clearing of full-fledge forests in order to set the terrain for grid stations and transmission lines.
The chief construction together with the auxiliary expenditures of operation and maintenance sum up to an ostentatious monetary affair.
Coal Power Projects
With a total of 6 coal power plants amongst all the power projects being developed in Pakistan under the CPEC, the majority are coal powered.
The Port Qasim and the Sahiwal supercritical coal power plants in Sindh and Punjab, respectively, will produce an aggregate of 2,460MW of electricity.
Coal fuelled electricity generation is cheaper than the other methods of power production. However, it is the most hazardous to the environment due to excessive carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels.
Preventive Measures Taken By the Sino-Pak Leadership
* Desalination of Sea Water
In order to remedy the inevitable environmental threats posed by the operation of coal power plants, systems to desalinate and use sea water for use in the power plant have been installed.
* Desulphurisation Of Flue Gas
Desulphurisation of flue gas to reduce the sulphur content from the smoke will also be ensured in order to meet the standards of international environmental protection agencies.
* Electrostatic Precipitator Units
Electrostatic Precipitator Units will also be installed in order to keep the carbon emissions in check.
* Anti-Seepage Ash Yards
These will ensure that there is no contamination of the ground water. The ash collected in the Ash Yard will also be processed and re-used as an essential raw material for the production of construction material like concrete, roofing supplies and bricks.
Cost Benefit Analysis
The renewable energy power projects are admittedly more environment friendly than the unsustainable energy ones. They are easier to set up and dismantle but are a lot more expensive to build than the coal power projects.
They also don’t completely eliminate human habitation possibilities in their surrounding as many people don’t mind living near a solar power plant or a dam. Contrary to which, living near a coal or nuclear power plant is termed nothing more than a disaster waiting to happen.
The solar, wind, and hydel power projects don’t leave behind any by-product or waste. Whereas coal power plants not only emit carbon filled smoke but also create water and ash residue which need to be properly treated and disposed of. These treatment plants are commonly viewed as an added burden on the aggregate cost.
4. The Hybrid Approach
A new prospect is under deliberation and in the stages of testing which proposes two methods of power generation can be merged. For example, solar panels can be placed along the peripheries of dams. This suggest minimised costs of land allocation, hassles of clearing out terrains etc.
Although it is merely a theory right now, it may prove beneficial if its pros trump its cons.
While there are certain foreseeable downsides to the power projects being developed in Pakistan, it can also be observed that the both environmental and monetary costs are being managed to their greatest possibility and potential. These power projects are undeniably the saving grace for Pakistan’s economy and its people.