Battling the Demon of Load Shedding

Pakistan will be celebrating her 69th birthday in less than a month from now. The Pakistan we see today is the much evolved and improved manifestation of the Pakistan of 1947.

Howbeit, to our extreme misfortune, even after 69 years of her inception, the energy situation in Pakistan remains in doldrums. Lack of a coherent energy policy, ad-hoc approach to the energy crisis, expensive generation of electricity (Rs. 12/unit), increased dependence on costly and imported oil, topped by an inefficient power transmission structure are some of the major contributing factors for the prevailing energy crisis in Pakistan.

It has now become pretty apparent that the Government of Pakistan alone cannot tackle the jinni of load shedding caused by the energy crisis. A third of Pakistan’s total population has been living without access to electricity. The national grid has failed to cater to the needs of the booming population of Pakistan; mainly the rural population. If we are ever to become an energy-sufficient nation, we must look beyond the convention. It is high time for us to emphasize more on the decentralization of power across the country.

The phenomenon of energy production through renewable sources has opened wide avenues for the crisis-stricken nation of Pakistan. In this respect, solar energy especially holds an enormous potential for meeting the electricity demands of the energy-famished country. A major part of Pakistan, particularly Baluchistan, Sindh and Southern Punjab is the recipient of plentiful irradiation ranging over 2 MWh/m2 and an average of 3000 sunshine hours per year. These statistics are indicative of Pakistan’s enormous potential for the utilization of sunlight for power generation. Presently, solar energy makes up less than 1% of the current energy mix of Pakistan.

The economically-developed countries are far ahead of Pakistan regarding the implementation of solar energy as one of their primary sources of power generation. Critics of solar energy may say that power generation through solar energy has space and area restraints. This is not a pragmatic excuse to stand in the way of implementation of solar energy as most of the domestic and industrial solar power plants are set up on rooftops; the free space is put to good use. South Korea has an area of 100,210 km² only, making it seven times smaller than Pakistan but it generates 2,398 Megawatts of electricity through solar power. South Korea is among the top ten countries across the globe to harness the prowess of sunlight for the production of electricity.

Albeit the Government of Pakistan is speeding up its efforts to overcome the long-standing energy crisis, it doesn’t seem plausible that the government’s efforts alone can battle the demon of load shedding. It is time that we find a permanent solution to this problem and live in a country where there is an abundance of clean and affordable energy for everyone.

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