Overcoming power crisis

Rizwan Ghani

Overcoming power crisis
Overcoming power crisis

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 – An effective and comprehensive National Energy Plan (NEP) is necessary to overcome the challenges in the energy sector and end water shortages so that national water and food security is protected in the long-term. NEP must define an energy mix and timelines for adoption.

It will set the foundation of the country’s economy, food and water security. In turn, it will drive three sectors of the economy (agriculture, manufacturing and services), generate jobs and improve social services. Saudi Arabia has allocated a $109bn investment budget to diversify its energy mix and generate one third of its electricity from renewable energy (54GW or 54,000MW) by 2032. If implemented, 41GW of energy will come from solar (25GW CSP, 16GW PV), 18GW from nuclear, 3 GW from waste to energy, 1 GW from geothermal and an additional 9 GW from wind power, specifically for water desalination plants. Authorities (KACARE) have released documents to help establish a timeline to generate electricity from alternate energy resources (Saudi Arabia aims to be world’s largest renewable energy market, July 18, Arab News).

The standard unit price for renewable energy must be included in the plan. In this year’s budget(2013), the government has scrapped duty on import of alternate energy equipment including solar panels. To advance the initiative, NEP should recommend a trade price for each unit of electricity produced from alternate energy. According to the International Energy Agency’s policy, uncertainty is the largest risk for renewable investment. Investment in energy sector will start as soon as per unit electricity prices of fossil and non-fossil fuels are decided for the next 5 to 10 years. It will help end load shedding and corruption while increasing transparency. As a start, the Saudi investment figures in alternate energy propose that it will cost five and a half rupees to generate a unit of electricity from alternate energy when produced at the rate of 10 hrs/day for 10 years ($2mln/MW).

Alternate energy is cheaper than modern gas plants. Currently, it costs six rupees and eighty paisas to generate a unit of electricity from modern gas-fired Ras Al-Khair power (2400MW) and desalination plant in Saudi Arabia($2.5mn/MW). The total cost of the new plant is SR 23bn ($6.1bn). The plant design has 52% efficiency (highest thermal performance possible). It is 14% more efficient than older models, and is expected to contribute in saving SR 2mn daily in terms of fuel costs and production of energy that would require 160 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The plant will also provide one billion liters of desalinated water daily to Riyadh and northern cities. But, Riyadh is adopting alternate energy to cut per unit production cost, end subsidies on electricity and water, and meet international carbon emission standards and goals.

Public and private adoption of renewable energy should be encouraged by the NEP. In China, the government is paying individual homeowners seven and a half cents/PV unit of electricity to promote renewable energy generation. Every 60th German is selling energy to the state. Eighteen million homes are using alternate energy in California. To follow, the government needs to give policies and laws to help shift 20 million homes, 80-90 % of small & medium businesses/shops and cottage industry to alternate energy in 3 months to two years. The UK has asked all NHS hospitals to generate their own electricity. Beijing is shifting government buildings, streetlights, transport, water and waste treatment plants and energy generation to alternate sources, as part of carbon neutral cities, under Green China strategy (China Daily). In Australia, the price per unit of energy from renewable sources is lower than that from gas, nuclear and coal. The government should take steps to make Pakistan surplus in energy. Alternate energy can help reduce prices, which will take away the incentive for energy theft and corruption. The linking of locally produced electricity will cut line losses, which are there due to long distance transmission and large grids. It can also free the country from relying on electricity imports from India.

Alternate energy must be made part of Pakistan’s energy mix and the NEP to protect water and food security. Saudi Arabia is headed to use wind power (9GW) for water desalination plants. Local governments can use alternate energy to run water pumps, water purification plants, desalinate seawater, recycle wastewater and transfer water from coastal areas to local communities, urban centers and mega cities. They can use it to generate electricity, earn revenue, generate millions of jobs and power local businesses and communities. By shifting 80% of national energy demand in agriculture, manufacturing and services sector to alternate energy mix, the federal government can build mega water storage facilities for irrigation, increase cultivation, per acre yield and reduce poverty as part of water and food security. Courtesy Pakobserver

Published in ZaraiMedia.com

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