Various reports have appeared in the media recently quoting sources in the Alternative Energy Development Board that Pakistan can generate hundreds of thousands of MW of electricity by using wind turbines.
Also, the potential of the Gharo corridor has been stated to be around 30,000 MW. This is perhaps excellent news for Pakistan’s energy sector, and could provide a solution end loadshedding.
However, a closer scrutiny reveals numbers and claims that seem outlandish. The overall estimated wind power potential has been quoted as being 346,000 MW. This is much higher than the total installed generation capacity in the country presently of around 22,000 MW. Such reports and data, whether from the AEDB or any other source must be analysed and independently verified before such numbers and claims are published.
Also the continuing rhetoric that Pakistan needs to utilise ‘green energy’ to replace fossil fuels, must not be continued without first understanding of how and at what cost wind power fits in the overall energy basket of any country.
The undeniable fact is that fossil fuel, namely coal and gas, account for over 50 per cent of worldwide power generation, whereas wind power, even in the US, comprises only of about three per cent. In Holland and Germany this figure is 8-12 per cent.
While alternative energy is indeed essential, it has to be integrated into the overall energy mix. For Pakistan, the projected figure in the 2005-2030 Energy Plan was 3-5 per cent which would translate to about 5,000 MW. Clearly, the AEDB’s feasibility reports seem not to be based on any rational understanding of the subject matter. The fact of the matter is that AEDB in its 10 years of operations has virtually achieved nothing, both past and present management included. All one hears and reads about is the renewable energy projects in the pipeline, but this is all on paper.
By: M.Ihsan Sharif