Canal desilting: 2000 megawatts power shortage likely
December 14, 2011: More than 2000MW power shortage is likely to take place with the start of canal desilting from last week of December until the end of January. The canal desilting campaign is an annual feature, an exercise to take extra sand and mud out of canals throughout country.
As a result, water releases to the dams are suspended, which affects the hydel generation capacity of the country terribly. Pakistan is presently generating 6000MW electricity through hydel, which comes down to a few hundred during the canal desilting campaign.
Ironically, this is the period when mercury comes down to the level of 10 degree centigrade, affecting the gas flow in pipelines on the SNGPL network. Therefore, production at the gas-dependent power producing plants gets a direct hit and country’s power generation solely depends on furnace oil. Interestingly, the PSO has been suspending supply of furnace oil time and again in recent past due to the stuck up recoveries on the part of Ministry of Water and Power.
This gruesome situation ultimately results into long hours’ announced and unannounced load shedding, particularly in the industry. Therefore, the industry has started panicking with every passing day as production not only at the prime but the non-prime users’ mills is likely to affect badly due to severe energy crisis.
The industry representatives have started planning their productions accordingly. But the Pepco has no clear-cut idea about the possible shortfall of electricity during canal desilting, which may reach to 4000MW on the higher side and 1500MW on the lower side with the start of canal desilting.
According to the Pepco sources, the exact situation would be clear next week and they are not in a position to forecast the actual shortfall at present. They said power generation at Mangla has already come down to 250MW from 3500MW in normal days.
They said the Pepco’s thermal generation capacity is around 45000MW, followed by the IPPs production capacity of 9000MW power and a few hundred MW by the RPPs. However, they said, the thermal generation would not be more than 2000MW, followed by about 7000MW through IPPs and a few hundred MW generation through RPPs in actual. It means total generation would be around 10,000MW during canal desilting against an ongoing demand of 12000MW during peak hours, ie in between 5 pm to 9 pm. Therefore, an immediate shortfall of 2000MW would be very much in place with the start of canal desilting. However, the situation may get worst in case the generation drops from this level with short supply of fuel to the power plants.