Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Causes and Consequences.


Energy is the most essential to ordinary standard of life, economic development; industrial development, agricultural development, sustaining of ongoing development, prosperity of the society, education and for different sectors improvement and survival. Scientific definition of the energy may be, “Energy if the ability to do the work. Energy has different forms. They are (i) Light Energy, (ii) Electrical Energy, (iii) Heat Energy, (iv) Chemical Energy, (v) Magnetic Energy, (vi) Magnetic Energy, (vii) Mechanical Energy, (viii) Atomic Energy. Energy can transfer from one form to another. This Transfer of energy from one form to another creates electricity. Different forms, when employed, creates electricity energy. Electrical Energy is only a kind of energies that can be achieved from experiments on energies.

Electrical Energy is lifeline today. Electrical energy production of any country is the measure of its economy. No country can achieve stupendously blooming economic growth without sufficiency in energy sector. Production of energy reflects the industrial output, agricultural output, transportation etc.

The deficit in supply of electricity to the demand is termed as energy crisis.  Energy crisis are alarming in Pakistan, affecting the growth and output of the industries and agriculture adversely, prevailing unemployment and causing inflation. When energy supply of an industry is restricted, its output decreases and cost of production increases due to which many industries are shut down leaving the labour unemployed. The upsurge in inflation is due to energy shortage in Pakistan. The number of people living under poverty line is increasing due to unemployment and inflation, which are both by products of energy crisis. As the high production cost decrease the rate of output, the exports of Pakistan are declining qualitatively and quantitatively. Our trade deficit is increasing which eventually will result in unstable economy. Severe Load shedding, increasing trade deficit, high inflation, unemployment, depreciation of rupee etc are reducing living standards of people in Pakistan.

Thus, energy crisis is a crisis of human development. Nearly 53% of Pakistanis live without electricity more than 8 hours daily throughout the year. The situation is worse in summer. The multi-dimensional ongoing energy crisis has been having a knock on the door of every Pakistani. Without sufficient energy, the wheel can’t run on roads, industry and agriculture can’t sustain and hospitals and operation theaters can’t function, schools and laboratories can’t work and public and private sectors can’t operate. Electricity, which is lifeblood to modern societies, provides a wide range of services essential to everyday life, including running hospitals, schools, and businesses, heating, cooling and lighting in homes and in work, preserving food commercially, and at home, pumping fresh water supplies and sewage, maintaining the flow of traffic, operating communications systems, internet and information portals and providing power for a wide range of appliances.

Electrical Production and Deficit in Supply

According to Power and Water Authority, the electricity generation in the country stands at 15,886 megawatts against the demand of 19,500 megawatts. As per its details, thermal sector generates 9,900 megawatts, Hydel generates 4,850 and thermal power generates 175 megawatts. The deficit remains 3614 megawatts.

Energy Sectors in Pakistan: 

There are four major power producers in country: WAPDA (Water & Power Development Authority), KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Company), IPPs (Independent Power Producers) and PAEC (Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission). There are around 20 independent power producers that contribute significantly in electricity generation in Pakistan.  

Sources of Energy Production in Pakistan

The energy is produced by Renewable and Exhaustible sources of power. Renewable energy sources include (i) By means of Hydel, (ii), By means of Wind, (iii) By means of Biogas, (iv) By means of Solar Energ. Non renewale sources of energy include (i)By means of fossil fuels and (ii) Nuclear energy.

Electricity – production by source (2003)

  • fossil fuel: 65% of total
  • hydro: 31% of total
  • nuclear: 4% of total

Causes of Energy Crisis: 

The causes of energy crisis are multifaceted, emerging from technical causes as well as political causes. They will be discussed one by one following:

(1) Technical Causes: The major technical causes of the shortfall in the availability of electrical energy in Pakistan are:

(i) Insufficient installed generating capacity. It is unfortunate fact that WAPDA and IPPs thermal power plants are running at an average plant factor of 50%. This means that they are producing only 50% of their capacity. They are not utilizing to the fullest. International, it is usual to have the thermal power plant operating at 75-80% plant factor. Operating the power stations as higher plant factors demands better maintenance procedures here. It is felt that operating plants at a higher plant factor will cause them to deliver 20-30% more energy to the system.

(ii)Aging Equipment: Transmission system unable to transmit the greater load now imposed upon it. This is a very important reason attributed to this energy shortage is the aging of the generating equipment which could not develop the electricity as per the design requirement. This is important to continuously update the equipment and keep the high standards of maintenance. Grid stations and related equipment unable to carry the load imposed. Distribution system was built to carry a smaller power and hence unable to cater to the existing demand.

(iii) High Cost of Fuel: The cost of crude has increased from 40$ to 140$ per barrel. It means that generation from thermal units are causing exorbitant price. WAPDA and Ke Eletric when purchasing power on higher cost are not eager to keep on selling the lectricity on loss. Therefore, they do not move on general complain of loadshedding.

(iv) Line Losses Control: The methodology that will provide immediate relief is the conservation and judicious use of the whatever little energy is being produced in the country. The current losses in the system are 24% of the total power generated. These include losses incurred during transmission and distribution as well as due to theft. Government should enforce shutting down of business, forbidding excessive and unnecessary lighting during late hours.

(v) The major management-related causes of the crisis are:

  • Management Information System not fully utilized.
  • Failure to forecast and plan for the future.
  • Failure to set up new generating stations in time.
  • No new Transmission/Distribution networks and grid stations set-up.
  • Unexpectedly rapid growth of load.

Political Causes

(i) Monopolization: In Pakistan, the government has monopolized the generation, transmission and distribution of the energy. This monopolization has devoured the spirit of competition and entrepreneurship. For example, KESC has been privatized. Its privatization has changed hands and its name merely. The monopoly does not have to worry about competition. Therefore, it continues to operate in neglect and inefficiency. Since the market is guaranteed for the monopoly, it does not have to worry about its customers or their issues. It is simply not answerable to respond to them and their problems. It functions with full-fledged immunity, responding only to the interests of the elite class, their business ventures and sugar mills and largely avoiding the masses. “When the State owns, nobody owns. When nobody owns, nobody cares.”

WAPDA and K-Electric are two generation and dispatch units in Pakistan. Although NEPRA is a government authority to settle the tariff issues but the fact remains that once the question of WAPDA arises, authority has very little influence.

(ii) Political Wrangling and Vested Interests: 

Pakistan is controlled by a cadre of active and retired military and civil personnel in collusion with landlord politicians. This elite class controls the country’s biggest and more important businesses, and holds most of the political power as well. All decisions are based on what serves their interest. Political short term rules, that change the authorities and hands of the ongoing works, impacts the energy sector. For instance, in January 2006, cabinet approved the construction of five large dams by 2016, including kalabagh dam. However, keeping adjourned the construction of Kalabagh as expected, it decided to go for a upstream Diamar-Bhasha which hadn’t even had a feasibility report. The other planned dams were not even ready for construction either. The reason for Diamar-Bhasha dam was to avoid political controversy in Sindh that could adversely affect the re election prospects of the Pakistan Muslim League, the party in power, in the general elections scheduled for late 2007.

(iii) Institutional Decay: There is chronic and persistent lack of planning in Pakistan. Or Alternately there is poor planning. In addition, as they say ‘poor planning leads to poor performance’.Pakistan has a large capacity for hydropower (40,000 MW), Large deposits of coal (185 billion reserves), but Pakistan could not exploit those resources at optimum level. Institutional decay and breakdown is the answer.

For instance, in 1990s when Kalabagh dam construction was delayed successive prime ministers including Benazir Bhutto, did not even order the National Water and Power Development Authority to prepare feasibility studies on other dams proposals. When serious power outages occurred in the 1990s, Bhutto embraced thermal power projects backed by foreign investors. The cost to Pakistani masses had been huge.

Consequences of Energy Crisis :

i). Economic Factors: Energy is pivotal for running all other resources and crisis of energy directly influences all other sectors of the economy. The economic progress is hampered by decline in agricultural productivity as well as by halting in operations of industries. One important factor of lower GDP and inflation of commodity prices in recent years is attributed to shortfalls in energy supply.

ii). Agriculture Sector: Agricultural productivity of Pakistan is decreasing due to provision of energy for running tube wells, agricultural machinery and production of fertilizers and pesticides. Thus higher energy means higher agricultural productivity.

iii). Industrial Sector: Nearly all Industrial units are run with the energy and breakage in energy supply is having dire consequences on industrial growth. As a result of decline in energy supply, industrial units are not only being opened, but also the existing industrial units are gradually closing.

iv). Unemployment: By closure of industrial units and less agricultural productivity, new employment opportunities ceased to exist and already employed manpower is shredded by the employers to increase their profit ratios. Thus energy crisis contributes towards unemployment.

v). Social Issues: This factor is primarily related to the domestic usage of energy (cooking, heating and water provision). Load shedding cause unrest and frustration amongst the people and results in agitation against the government.

vi). Poverty: Declination in economic growth, lower agricultural productivity, unemployment and shackling industrial growth result in increasing poverty. Currently, around forty percent of our population is living beyond poverty line and this ratio is increasing day by day. Ample control of energy crisis will surely yield in curbing the menace of poverty.

6. Conclusion:

Energy Crisis has, more or less, plagued all sectors of Pakistan’s machinery ranging from economy to industry, agriculture to social life, inflation to poverty and it is hampering national progress in a drastic manner. Nonetheless, menace of energy crisis can be overwhelmed by government through making effective policies and its proactive implementation. Simultaneously, it is the responsibility of us, the people of Pakistan, to utilize the available energy astutely and wisely to play our due role for progress of the country.