Big potential for energy savings in Pakistan

The Samaa TV website provides a good article on the estimate of how much electricity is wasted in Pakistan because of inefficient appliances. This shows that all countries need to pay attention to improving energy efficiency.


Pakistani households waste 25 percent of electricity: study

Despite energy shortages in Pakistan, it is estimated that households waste 25 percent of their power because of inefficient appliances in the country and a ‘lack of mindfulness’ when using electricity, according to a new study.

The research conducted by Research and Advocacy for the Advancement of Allied Reforms (RAFTAAR) demonstrates the immediate effects that conservation and efficiency can bring to the long-standing issue of load-shedding in the country.

The study, titled “Energy Conservation: Avoid Wastages, Prevent Shortages” states that the dominant narrative on the energy crisis is that nothing can be done about electricity shortages unless the government installs more capacity.

How to reduce power outages

A total of 17 percent of energy currently being used in the country can be saved through energy conservation and efficiency measures. That’s a reduction of two hours of load-shedding daily.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) analysis of use efficiency of various household items and appliances showed an efficiency gap of 26 per cent, with refrigerators being the most inefficient (with an efficiency gap of 54 per cent). This statistic implies that more than one-quarter of electricity used by households is ‘wasted’. Our usage of older appliances is wasting electricity in short supply.

Currently, 67 percent of domestic energy consumption is from fans and lights. About 10 million new fans are added in Pakistan every year, of which around 7 million are ceiling fans.

Energy efficient fans can reduce the total quantum of load shedding by 39 percent at existing consumption if (hypothetically) all fans are replaced.

Use of UPS, generators convenient, but not efficient

There are more UPS’ [uninterruptible power supply] in Pakistan than the total number of population in Balochistan province. According to an estimate by the Federal Environment Protection Agency, about 60 percent of Pakistani households have some form of a UPS (about 18 million) to provide electricity backup for selected appliances.

The problem with this private solution of both UPS’ and generators is that they are inefficient compared to the national grid; this stopgap solution is wasteful. They add more pressure to increase load-shedding. Conservation and energy efficiency do the opposite.

Why should we be more efficient and conserve energy?

The national cost of load shedding, inclusive of both direct and indirect costs, is estimated at Rs. 1.4 trillion ($14 billion) – the costs incurred over the past decade could have paid to put an additional 20,000 megawatts to the grid.

Electricity supply is substantially short of requirements, at times by as much as 7,000 MW, or 32 percent, of total demand.

Independent research by Pasha et al. (2013) estimates the cost of power outages at 7 per cent of GDP and determines that electricity shortage has lowered economic growth in Pakistan by almost 2 per cent.

It is estimated that nearly 500,000 households directly experienced layoffs due to energy-related downsizing and closures.

A study undertaken by Pakistan Institute for Development Economics (PIDE) of large-scale manufacturing units showed substantial adverse effects of power shortages. On average, a production unit lost almost 3.5 labour hours in a day due to power shortages. Production costs increased by 27 percent; this was mainly due to the shift to alternative modes of energy. On the aggregate, power shortages were found responsible for a loss of about 21 percent in the output of the manufacturing sector.

This is particularly alarming given that, at the current rate of population growth and with 64 percent of the population under the age of 30, Pakistan needs to add nearly 2 million new jobs each year to address the employment needs of fresh entrants in the labour market.

Renewable energy is the need of the hour

There is 120,000 megawatts of potential for wind energy in Pakistan, half of it exists in one contiguous belt of coastline in Sindh.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an opportunity to collaborate with China on renewables. China is now a world leader in the total wind and solar installed renewable energy at about 140,000 megawatts or 140 gigawatts.

At present, an addition of 200 megawatts of wind power and 1000 megawatts of solar energy are planned projects within CPEC.

Of the around 1.2 million irrigation pumps installed in Pakistan, 362,626 are within areas with a groundwater table of 30 feet or less, which make them a “good fit” for conversion to solar pumping.

Since 90 percent of these pumps use diesel either directly in diesel pumps or are tractor driven, converting the pumps to solar will mean a 27 percent savings in diesel fuel consumption for irrigation pumping.

A third of all irrigation pumps in Pakistan are ideal for solar pumping to conserve electricity. Most tube wells are in the Punjab, which presents the province as a perfect front-runner to lead the change.

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