For years, the matter of balancing Pakistan's supply against the demand for electricity has remained a largely unresolved matter. Pakistan now faces a significant challenge in revamping its network responsible for the supply of electricity.
Pakistan's energy infrastructure is not well developed. Currently the country is facing severe energy crisis. Despite strong economic growth and rising energy demand during the past decade, no serious effort has been made to install new capacity of generation.
Transmission losses from outdated infrastructure, power theft, and seasonal reductions in the availability of hydropower have worsened the situation. Consequently, the demand exceeds supply and hence load-shedding is a common phenomenon through power shutdown.
The power cuts have sometimes amounted to 20-22 hours a day in most small cities and even cities like Karachi were seeing 18+ hours of load shedding.
Pakistan needs around 15,000 to 20000 MW electricity per day. However, currently it is able to produce about 11,500 MW per day so there is a shortfall of about 4000 to 9000 MW per day.
The National Assembly Standing Committee for Water and Power meeting was held in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Ghulam Mustafa Shah. Briefing the committee, Water and Power Development Authority Chairman Shakil Durrani said that Mangla Dam would be filled up to 1210 feet by the end of this year. This will enhance the water storing capacity of the dam by 0.8 million acres.
The WAPDA chairman said that load shedding cannot be overcome until 2018 and power demand would soar to 130,000 megawatt by 2030.
He said that India could not build dams on three western rivers, adding that the 16 kilometer long tunnel of Jhelum Hydro Project had been constructed.
During the 2010 Pakistan floods and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake power stations, power distribution and transmission and other energy infrastructure was damaged. During the floods the recently constructed Jinnah hydroelectric power plant was flooded in addition to severe damage to the transmission and distribution network and installations. Several power plants and refineries were threatened by rising waters and had to be shut down. The natural gas field output had to be reduced as the flood waters approached the wells. There has also been some concern by Pakistani nuclear activists over the effect of natural disasters on nuclear plants especially over the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex, since the plant lies over a geological fault. Due to over reliance of Pakistan on dams for electricity generation some environmental impacts of dams such as submergence of usable/ecological land and their negative impact on Pakistan's mangrove forests due to loss of river silt load, as well as increased risk of severe floods have become evident
"Short-sightedness of experts and the government is not only restricted to the power sector, but also the entire economy is stuck with it," Intezar Mehdi said adding, "Ill-consequences of bad energy and petroleum policy, or the lack of a holistic view has now been termed as circular debt."
The electricity prices charged from the end-consumers and its recovery had been the victim of government's incompetence and is influenced by the government of Pakistan's whims, compulsions and political calculus. As a result, National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) are unable to recover full cost recovery and surplus, he said.
About the main reason of non-recovery, Mehdi said that one of the reasons for non-recovery is the non-payment of bills by the customers. However, he said, a huge chunk could not be recovered due to misreporting, disguised losses and theft, masqueraded as inflated bills.
Mehdi said that there is no consistent gas supply for the four gas and diesel-based IPPs at Muridke, Balloki, Qadirabad and Sheikhupura, which got gas on rotational basis. The alternative, diesel firing, is apparently worse as the incremental cash loss is higher, hence, more circular debt, he said.
To have any security of supply for the future Pakistan must adopt other technologies for generating power from renewable energy sources, such as municipal waste and landfill methane geothermal recovery, anaerobic biomass gasification, biological fuels, fuel cells and ocean waves.
"Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light." This is a very famous quotation. but as the current electricity shortage worsens our faith in the government providing us 24 non stop electricity is not very strong.