Pakistan has been stuck in a power deficit rut for decades with no hopes of improvement despite promises made by the incumbent government of the resolution of the energy crises by 2018. The fact remains that even if the energy crisis is ‘resolved’ by 2018, it will be a temporary one at best, falling prey to its crippling unsustainability and ultimately collapsing. Pakistan is a country that is heavily dependent on import of oil for its domestic energy requirement, yet the over-reliance on thermal energy generated electricity continues to increase while the massive potential of around 40,000 megawatts (MW) in hydropower remains unharnessed.

The efforts of the government to resolve the energy crisis remain questionable since they have given approval to run newly set-up power plants on imported fuel. The infamous $16-billion deal with Qatar for the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has started to add to this unsustainable reliance on thermal energy, as the government has recently approved a new implementation agreement for three LNG-fired power plants, which violates the least-cost-generation policy.

According to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (NEPRA) State of Industry Report 2015, the installed capacity to generate hydel-power in the country stands at 7,116MW in the fiscal year 2014-15. The ratio of hydel to thermal installed generation capacity in the country was about 67 percent to 33 percent in 1985. With the passage of time, due to various reasons, there was an increase in the dependency on fossil fuels and thereby reduction in the share of hydel generation, owing to the failure of successive governments to develop a consensus for the construction of new dams.

Every monsoon season brings with it destruction and devastation apart from the fact that this valuable rainwater worth billions of dollars is wasted because of the lack of water reservoirs and dams. The development of hydel energy is absolutely essential if we are to address the energy woes of this country. If the production of power from hydel sources is marginalised, it will cause a fall in the water storage capacity of dams that are accumulating silt.

Current oil and gas reserves of the country contribute to only 5 percent and 48.8 percent of the energy mix and at the current rate will be exhausted by 13 and 16 years respectively. The overwhelming dependence of the energy sector on imported fossil fuels will create an energy security threat that is monumentally bigger than what has been experienced in the past. Sustainable energy must be developed and harnessed along with the flawed energy policy that governs our country.