Essay on Energy Crisis
1570 Words7 Pages
Energy is important to our nation for many reasons. It is a key economic driver. It offers new market opportunities for business. Providing energy to our nation has been an exciting challenge in recent years. Many changes have been constant throughout that period. The past tells Americans that predicting the specifics of the energy future for our nation with great accuracy would be unlikely. Americans get their energy from different types of resources. With all the different resources Americans believe that an energy crunch shouldn’t happen.
The crisis is a nationwide energy discontent in which natural gas rates have soared to the highest level in 15 years, and OPEC has slashed its oil output again to keep…show more content…
More than half of the growth for natural gas, over the next 20 years, will come from the electric generation market. The use of natural gas in this country could increase by more than a third in the next 20 years. In the electric power generation industry, natural gas could increase as much as 250 percent for power generation.
The United States now has two percent of the world’s proven crude-oil reserves. Most of the American produced oil comes form old wells, where the output declines over the years. Production costs are lower overseas, so it is cheaper to buy from OPEC nations than from many American suppliers. Increasing energy supplies requires not only wells but new pipelines to transport oil and natural gas. In 1998, the United States consumed 9.8 million more barrels of oil a day than it produced.
The economic miracles of the 20th century were powered by fossil fuels. The 21st century may be seen by an equally dramatic change from fossil fuels, and the environmental chaos they brought. The result may be less than an energy revolution. The cost of fossil fuel energy produced is comparable to that of electricity. A fuel cell cleanly and quietly combines oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity. Fuel cells could one day sit in thousands of basements producing power and hot water, without fossil fuels. Some fossil fuel lobbyists still argue that it will be difficult and expensive to find an alternative to oil and coal.
EMERGING in 2006-07, Pakistan’s energy crisis still haunts the country — be it lengthy load-shedding, the growing demand-supply gap, energy insecurity, increasing reliance on imports and circular debt. In recent years, it has become more complicated both in dimension and intensity.
Has there been any effort to determine what went wrong? Apparently not. The energy crisis did not take us by surprise; from a surplus of power in 2001 to a deficiency in 2006, the period was long enough for us to have taken action. The crisis has been cultivated by years of negligence and wrongdoing. Senior Wapda officials were raising the alarm as early as 2003, only to be snubbed by key decision-makers. The Nandipur power project is a classic example, speaking volumes for how successive regimes since 2007, when the project that was set to become operational, have jeopardised it.
Has there been any effort to evaluate the impact of the energy crisis on Pakistan’s GDP and macro-economy? It does not seem so. The energy crisis has cost the national economy dearly, not only the loss to GDP in terms of missing energy due to the demand-supply gap but also the loss to industrial and commercial activities due to load-shedding and flight of capital from the country. Safe estimates suggest that it has cost the national economy over $100 billion.
Has there been any account produced to determine the consequent deindustrialisation and flight of capital? Again, no. The crisis has played havoc with our industrial activities. In industrial cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad, thousands of factories have shut down or are operating at the bare minimum level, which has resulted in huge flight of capital as investments have shifted elsewhere. What a shame that it was not just more advanced countries like Canada, Malaysia and UAE that saw a major influx of Pakistani investors, but countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka too.
Ten years on, are we any closer to solving the issue?
Has there been any effort to analyse the impact on micro-level socio-economics? No. The crisis has heavily dented the socioeconomic fabric of society, reportedly resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs mainly due to skewed industrial and commercial activities. With those affected often being the sole breadwinners of their households, the situation has led to dire socioeconomic implications for millions of people. In the absence of any social welfare support, being pushed towards crime and other forms of moral corruption has been the unfortunate, inevitable outcome for many.
Have lessons been learned? No. With vision and commitment, challenges can be turned into opportunities. And opportunities have definitely arisen, but only for certain individuals rather than the masses or the country at large. Many who have been observing closely argue that the energy crisis is another example of how crises are crafted to serve vested interests.
The entire energy sector, in terms of administration and functions, needed to be overhauled; malpractices and wrongdoings that caused the crisis to be corrected; and projects and deals transparently handled. But the state of affairs shows that little has changed; in fact, strong efforts are needed to ensure transparency and merit. Moreover, reckless decision-making must be avoided. It is unfortunate that powerful lobbies still appear to be dictating key energy decisions.
Has any goal-oriented policy and road map been developed to drive Pakistan towards a sustainable energy future? Efforts here too have been sparse. The diverse and complicated nature of the crisis demanded a paradigm shift in the modus operandi: a holistic and coherent energy policy, a goal-oriented approach and an implementation road map. But the situation is without direction. Various ministries, departments and cells still work haphazardly without any meaningful coordination. No value-engineering behind the projects is emerging. Important issues — an imbalance in the energy fuel mix, addressing our energy security by lowering the reliance on imports, and the lack of utilisation of cheap and indigenous hydropower and renewable resources — do not appear to be challenges that cause concern to the authorities.
But the energy crisis can be resolved. Pakistan has the potential, capacity and opportunity to overcome this challenge. Our existing power plants, currently underperforming for a wide range of administrative and technical reasons, need to run optimally. Vast, untapped indigenous resources including hydropower, renewables and fossil fuels can help with energy security and affordability.
Energy conservation, the cornerstone of energy strategies across the world, has to be embedded in the national energy fabric, not just in letter but also in spirit. Our human resources are competent enough to rise to the occasion. What is really missing is the combination of vision, strategy and commitment on the part of policymakers.
The writer is the author of Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Origins, Challenges and Sustainable Solutions.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2017