In the near pasta parliamentary committee was informed that it was not possible to overcome the energy deficit ‘so early’, as there would be almost 5,000 MW of power shortage over the months to come. The government expects that this year in summers, power demand would increase by 1,000MW over the last year’s demand of 23,000MW and will go up to 24,000MW. It is time to recall that PML-N won the 2013 elections with the promise to end power outages and blackouts. But it is still struggling to fulfill its promise. Since taking office, the government has repeatedly stated its intent to overcome load shedding but still looking for quick fixes to the mega crisis. Now the government is low on credibility with regard to its pronouncements about solving energy constraints. There is also growing anxiousness among PML-N leaders about the extent to which the government will be able to tackle load shedding before they hit the road for the upcoming general election campaign. It seems energy sector will continue to be a major focus in 2018 elections.

There has been an enormous increase in the demand of energy in comparison to enhancement in energy production. Pakistan’s energy infrastructure is considered to be underdeveloped and poorly managed. There are multiple factors including corruption, governmental negligence, political opposition to various projects and line losses etc. Moreover, rapid demand growth, 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.

Currently the country is facing a severe energy crisis. Over 140 million Pakistanis either have no access to the power grid or suffer over 12 hours of load-shedding daily. Resultantly, energy has become the talk of town in Pakistan. Starting from house wives, traders, businessmen, students all are the victims of energy shortage. Karachi, the biggest city is experiencing up to 12 hours load shedding in peak hot weather.

The government initiated many energy projects and some of those are functional in the near future. The 969MWs of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project’s first unit will start generation by February 2018, second unit in mid-March and third and fourth units will be completed in April 2018, and so the entire four units will give 969MWs to the grid. Similarly, the first unit of 1,410 MWs of Tarbela-IV extension will be completed by end of December 2017,whereas its other two units will be completed in high water flow season in 2018.The third unit of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant in Mianwali district, the total nuclear technology based power generation has reached the mark of 1040 megawatt, but still much below 8000 Megawatt, the target set by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

The government is attempting to add capacity to the grid in order to remedy the persistent power shortage, but these measures will take time to come into effect. There are some more immediate solutions to the problem. One is the conservation and efficient use of energy. So far energy conservation is limited to newspaper ads and lip service in seminars. No serious thought is being given to utilize the energy at the optimum level. A new culture need to develop to conserve energy.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is another way Pakistan can turn towards cleaner forms of energy, as China is a world leader in total wind and solar installed renewable energy, at about 140,000MW.Pakistan has potential of more than 100,000 MW from solar energy. Half of this potential exists in one contiguous belt of Sindh coastline. There are some solar power plants being constructed in Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan but more and more plants should be built with more pace.

Similarly, Pakistan has potentials of wind energy up to 50000 MW, yet power generation through wind is in initial stages. Currently 06 MW has been installed in first phase in Jhampir through a Turkish company but more wind power plants should be built on war footings.

There is dire need for power generation with the construction of hydel power projects that provide much cheaper electricity. Pakistan has potential of hydro resources to generate 41000 to 45000 MW, however, only 6555 MW is currently being generated by this important renewable resource.

Our country is blessed with the largest coal fields in Thar, having reserves of more than 175 billion tones but no serious work is done to explore the coal for power generation. This is complained that the coal quality is inferior. However tailored made solutions are available to burn any type of coal. In addition to power generation, this coal can be used for chemical and fertilizer production.

Energy crisis has, more or less, plagued all sectors ranging from economy to industry, agriculture to social life and it is hampering national progress in a drastic manner. The government should overwhelm this menace because it is both a political and economic issue at the same time. At the same time it is also the responsibility of the people to utilize the available energy wisely. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must work against time to fulfill his political promise or else the rhetoric would cost him dearly in 2018 election.