Pakistan is facing an energy crunch which knows no bounds. Successive governmental thrusts have come to a naught. The public is fed up and would want more drastic steps to be taken, but not those which seek even a semblance of sacrifice. They think that they have had enough and the ever increasing prices are already exacting a great price. Consequently, conservation as a tool to contain energy shortages, has been rejected as any preferred solution. This is extremely unfortunate and speaks of the general non-understanding of the issues by the people. However, one fact does absolve the public of any guilt. This would be the general apathy in governance seen in the country. Actually, the people wish to be led through example and would want the affluent to sacrifice first.
Coming over to the subject of conservation, we see that it is rightly in accordance with the injunctions of Islam and also what folk wisdom and common sense says. Meaning thereby, that indeed solution to a large part of the energy crisis is surely available through implementation of stringent conservation measures. The foremost of the steps would be disciplined use of energy sources. However, another very important facet is hidden from the public eye and that is the issue of energy efficiency. This is a way of managing and restraining the growth in energy consumption. Something is more energy-efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input. For example, when a compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses less energy (one-third to one-fifth) than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is considered to be more energy-efficient. Consequently, as against the need to produce megawatts, energy efficiency leads to the production of nega-watts, which in turn would result in reduced demands with full utility of the equipment in use. In this case, we could consume energy at will and also keep on producing whatever is needed. On the other hand, conservation requires prudent use, least possible use, use in consonance with supplies and lastly use during times of availability and cuts otherwise. It is thus seen that conservation and energy efficiency are two different subjects and should be considered as such. And keeping both these issues apart and separate would result in more dividends and profit for those adopting any of these.
A little insight into the equipment and machinery being used in Pakistan reveals that most of the contraptions are relics of the past, procured during the era where mass and heavy production was desired, when energy was cheap and abundant, when concepts of efficiency were low and overhauling and rehab was easy to conduct. A 2007 survey conducted by Pepco through its energy management and conservation division revealed that the machinery used by Pakistani industry was 23 years old on the average. The textile spinning industry was by far the most modern, while steel industry was a relic of the late 19th century. Going back in time by 23 years took us to the early 1980s, when only USA or Japan was trying to improve on the efficiency of machines as an aftermath to the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, and while the issue elsewhere was just to somehow improve upon the then production capacities. And all this could only be done by using more power/energy and creating bigger production lines. Producing more from any particular facility was though to be prudent – this, however, led to spare capacities everywhere. In a country like Pakistan, the concept of energy efficiency or energy labelling was nowhere even mentioned in the text books. The Pepco survey was very clear to the fact that because of old and trite machinery, the industry in Pakistan was extremely inefficient and gas guzzling. The survey concluded that at least 50% more expenses were being made in comparison to the latest model and design of equipment.
Further forays led us to the shocking information that Pakistan had also become the dumping ground for energy-inefficient equipment, machines, domestic appliances and such like contraptions. This had happened because the world after 2000 had converted to the dictates of energy efficiency, while we remained oblivious to any such requirement. It was seen as an example that the newly popular split air conditioner was not what was said about it, other domestic appliances could also be labelled as such and that even the most sophisticated machines were all rotten. Actually, all claims to the contrary were false. The importers and assemblers got away with their claims because of absence of any laws and relevant entities that were simply ineffective and feckless. It was further seen that the vehicles being imported or manufactured in Pakistan had engines which were extremely inefficient and those that did not conform to any international standard. Actually, none in Pakistan knew about the scam and nor were worried about it. Necessary legislation prohibiting all this was simply not there.
Calculations revealed that as much as 50% was being lost in shape of extra electricity being consumed, more fuel being expended, huge btus being burnt and so on. If we just focus on the present power demand in the country, it could be concluded that out of the maximum summer demand of 28,700MW (for Pepco, K-E and captive plants), at least 4000-5000MW can be saved through an equal amount of nega-watts made available by adoption of energy efficiency measures. The financial cost of this inefficiency can be gauged from the fact that a princely sum of US $5-6 billion is needed just to set up plants able to generate 5000MW and a sum of Rs 350 billion is required annually to just provide oil for running the plants (even at the latest low oil prices). Here, it would be important to suggest that the developed world has already reaped the benefits. Prime example would be the stagnation in the energy demand in the USA, which is not due to any economic recession etc, but on account of the extremely enhanced efficiency in use of energy there.
How can all this be corrected? This can be done through the formulation of an integrated national policy to attain highest standards of energy efficiency in a set period. Then would be the formulation of a detailed road map. There would be no need to draft efficiency standards anew – rather, such standards already implemented in comparative economies would be adopted for implementation. These, thereafter, can be changed, upgraded, added upon or simply replaced on the need basis. However, adoption of some good standards would act as the initial building block for attaining energy efficiency in the country. Some imperative departments/organisations already operating in Pakistan would be required to take ownership of the programme and then implement the same till full realisation is achieved. These would be the various ministries, PSQCA, ENERCON, EDB, NPO, PCSIR, and PSF, all gas and power utilities, associations representing various manufacturing sectors, CCIs, the FPCCI and so on. These organisations would ensure that no contraption is produced in Pakistan which does not conform to international standards, that no import contravenes the law and that under a phased programme the existing production facilities get upgraded. Here, a 10-year programme is suggested to be undertaken through one of the ministries of the GoP acting as the national co-co-ordinator. A financial support programme would further bolster the attainment of energy efficiency in the Country. Additionally, the achievable road map with time lines too would be implemented. The issue and need of energy efficiency has to be hammered in the national psyche through being made a part of the existing curriculum and syllabi. Actually, the requirement has to be taught right from the start.
The most important facet of any effort to achieve energy efficiency in the Country would be to set up and then sustain ESCOs (Energy Service Companies). These would amongst other duties conduct energy audit which examines the condition of energy consumption in facilities. It “identifies energy consumption that is in excess of what is needed to adequately serve the facility”. Usually, the results of energy audits are presented in a formal report, showing findings on potential energy efficiency improvement, estimated energy and cost savings, as well as anticipated costs of implementation. This is also one of the pillars of the recommendations made by various experts and the proposed Energy Conservation and Efficiency Act of 2012, (pending for want of approval of the lower house of the parliament at present). Once the Act gets promulgated, the requisite ESCOs can take up energy audit – which is extremely important to gauge the present position of waste and inefficiency of operations. And after the requisite ESCOs are put in place and start operating, the energy users would get to know about the actual data of usage and the savings that could positively accrue through introduction of Energy Management Systems, replacement of unwarranted equipment and the BMR needed to assure maximum benefits etc.
It will be extremely important to refer to the present efforts by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to convince Pakistanis to adopt energy efficiency as a national goal to be achieved in the next 10 years. They have crafted a nearly USD 0.85 billion loan portfolio for this job. The loan papers are very comprehensive and encompassing all possible facets of the issue. In case, the programme is implemented, surely Pakistan can achieve energy efficiency and thus join the ranks of the developed world. We can prune our use to a great extent, while improving upon the present productivity level. This would be in addition to other supply and demand side measures along with adoption of conservation as a national duty. In fact, our salvation lies in implementing energy efficiency modules in the country. The nega-watts out there as low-hanging fruit should come to our rescue otherwise the energy crises would simply engulf us and shut the works.