Pakistan is undergoing an acute energy crisis for the last decade. As a result of industrial development and population growth, demand of energy has been increased enormously. Moreover, inefficient energy supply capacity and incompetent management of resources have worsened the condition.
Energy requirements of Pakistan are met through oil, gas, coal, hydro power, solar power and nuclear power. The fundamental factor responsible for the electricity shortfall is inappropriate energy mix and increased dependence on non-renewable resources. Increased reliance on thermal power is directly translated into increased generation cost and consequently increased tariff due to costly fuel component. Currently, more than 60% of electricity is being generated through thermal resources i.e. oil & gas.
Hydroelectricity is produced by utilizing the energy of running water. Unlike thermal power, prices of hydroelectricity do not rely on unpredictable variations in fuel cost. The share of hydel power in total power generation of Pakistan was nearly 70% in 1970s which has now been reduced to 32%. Hydropower development suffered a slowdown in recent decades despite of large potential available for hydropower generation.
Electricity shortfall that surges to around 5000MW every year could have been averted by harnessing the considerable hydropower potential in recent years, either by construction of Dams or Run-of-River Hydropower projects.
According to estimates, Pakistan has hydropower potential of about 60,000 MW, of which only around 7000 MW is exploited so far. More than 85% of country’s hydropower potential is still untapped. Enormous potential is available for hydroelectric development in Gilgit-Baltistan, of which less than 1% is harnessed by this time. Installed capacity is inappreciable against available potential in other provinces as well.
About 30MAF of water goes waste into sea every year which is more than five times the existing live storage capacity of Tarbela reservoir, yet we profess that we are short of water and short of power.
There is dire need to reconfigure the energy mix by effectively utilizing the hydel power and reducing the power generation from thermal sources. It will help to conserve the available fossil fuels and will provide reliable and consistent energy at low-cost.