How to solve Pakistan’s energy crisis?


Home-generated geothermal power has the potential to greatly boost the country’s energy needs.

The world is facing the challenge of reducing emissions at a rapid pace to ensure that net zero targets are met. Meanwhile, countries around the world are struggling to achieve a clean energy profile while guaranteeing supply security and avoiding any unwanted socio-economic losses. The challenge is quite different depending on the country under examination.

In the case of Britain and most of the developed world, industrialization began two centuries ago. Shortly after James Watt patented the steam engine in 1769, coal was used to make iron and electric ships, engines and other machinery. Coal became the backbone of the British Empire, bringing wealth from around the world and leaving behind economies that were less than the shadow of the then industrial world. The same economies, most of which still find themselves in the category of developing nations, now face a memorable task. They must grow their economies, lift the population out of poverty and grow their industries, while holding them accountable for their long dependence on fossil fuels and their effects on the planet. This is the trouble we find ourselves in today. In formulating a long-term strategy, Pakistan needs to reconcile three key aspects of its energy profile: it must consist of a race that is highly localized. Has low carbon emissions, and is able to support an ecosystem that allows practical grid load management.

At present, Pakistan imports one-third of its energy resources and is among the lowest (99 out of 110) in energy conservation, according to the World Energy Council. Published recently. Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2021-2030 It has outlined plans to increase hydro as well as solar and wind production to reach 60% of Pakistan’s energy production by 2030. The remaining demand is expected to be met from local and imported coal and other sources of RLNG. However, even if these targets are met, imported coal and RLNG will still account for about 24% of the installed capacity in 2030. The continued reliance on imported fuels is ready to remain a burden on the country’s foreign exchange reserves and bring the economy to the brink of abrupt change. Fuel prices have risen further due to political developments. In a world that is depleting coal, it is also an additional stain on Pakistan’s carbon footprint. The current emission intensity in the power sector is 353 GCO.2./ kWh and will be reduced to 200 g-CO.2./ kWh according to IGCEP calculation. While this sounds encouraging, countries like the UK have set three times lower targets than IGCEP’s best case scenario. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that Pakistan lags behind the rest of the world in electrification, especially in the place of electric vehicles, and if it wants to reach net zero, it will have to close the emissions gap. Will Given the ongoing crisis of capacity payments at existing thermal power plants and the declining costs of renewable energy and battery storage, the need for time is certainly not to expand coal-fired production.

At present, the government’s main focus is on providing affordable electricity to the population and overcoming issues such as load shedding and overpayment at existing thermal plants. However, the country still needs to get rid of its dependence on fossil fuels in the years after 2030 and adopt a well-planned plan for grid stability and load management. Silver bullets are rarely the solution to such large-scale problems, but so far one area of ​​interest that can provide deep support is geothermal power: renewable heat energy from below the Earth’s surface. Is extracted. Geothermal plants have unparalleled emissions compared to coal-fired power plants and have lower longevity and lower operating costs.

Many countries have been able to grow their economies properly in the post-war years. However, few have done so in a completely sustainable way. One country that rarely comes to mind in such debates is Iceland, once one of the poorest countries in Europe. Instead of pushing for an import-driven energy policy, Iceland began generating geothermal electricity to become self-sufficient. As it turned out, lying on the fault line meant that the country was endowed with abundant reserves of geothermal energy. Eventually, the geothermal generation reached such a high level, and energy became so cheap, that Icelanders could bathe in outdoor hot swimming pools all year round, grow crops and farm fish never seen before on the island, and developing energy. Developed industries. As aluminum production which now accounts for 40% of its exports. Since then, developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey and Kenya have been influenced by the Icelandic model and have built capacities between 0.9-2 GW.

For decades, we Pakistanis have lamented the fault lines under our feet and we have had to endure the tectonic tragedies that have ensued. Why not try to recapture the curse of these geological fractures and exploit the clean energy that can present their indelible presence. There are some estimates of how much geothermal electricity can be generated in Pakistan. Some of the estimates that have been released are in the astonishing range of 10 GW or more – in 2020 the maximum demand for electricity in Pakistan was 25 GW. Studies have cited particularly large reserves in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan. The use of geothermal energy for heating and cooking applications will also mean that low pressure on the economy will rapidly power these sectors of consumption. Pakistan is one of the 46 member countries of the Global Geothermal Alliance and yet the government’s lack of interest in the sector is astonishing. Geothermal energy is not included in the IGCEP, the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), the National Transmission and Dispatch Center (NTDC) or any recent policy document from the Ministry of Energy. Perhaps the high cost of installing a geothermal power plant is seen as a clear deterrent. However, once operational, geothermal power plants are cheaper to maintain and provide cheaper electricity, as they do not require fuel and are always running. Therefore, unlike most renewables, it is not intermittent and has high efficiency factors.

Domestic-generated geothermal power has the potential to greatly enhance the country’s ability to meet growing energy demands while limiting emissions and meeting international commitments. In addition, the economy will focus more on local energy supply, thus reaping the strategic benefits that will no longer be held hostage to ridiculous commotions associated with imported fuels. When the time comes, these measures will also make electricity more affordable for the people.

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