Focus on energy mix

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PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who has necessary background of country’s energy woes, had a meeting with relevant officials and Ministers of State dealing with the energy sector on Tuesday and issued necessary guidelines on how to achieve energy security. He rightly directed Power and Petroleum Divisions to prepare a roadmap to reduce usage of thermal power sources and instead focus on natural gas and domestic coal for energy production.
The direction is in line with the vision of PML (N) leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who repeatedly expressed his determination to not only eliminate the menace of load-shedding but also arrange provision of electricity at reduced rates. He definitely had in mind the extensive use of local coal and utilisation of all resources of alternative energy. The prices of electricity have marginally come down but not because of this policy but thanks to the reduction in prices of oil in the international market and resultant decrease in tariff on account of fuel price adjustment. For reasons best known to relevant officials and leaders, there is no satisfactory progress on utilisation of Thar coal deposits and it seems some vested interests are bent upon denying due benefit of the massive deposits to the country. The Prime Minister should better hold in-depth discussions with all stakeholders to remove bottlenecks and speed up the plan for use of Thar coal for thermal power projects. The Prime Minister has also talked about use of gas for electricity generation so as to reduce the cost but who knows better than Mr Abbasi that the country has huge gas deficit and cannot rely heavily on this option except at the cost of smooth supply of the commodity to domestic consumers. The more prudent approach would be to expedite implementation of programme for hydel power generation. This means construction of water reservoirs for which sites have already been identified and necessary planning done but the cost factor is the main hurdle. The problem can be resolved by taking up the issue with Chinese but regrettably political instability is not allowing government to focus fully on development. The government must move swiftly and workout all possible combinations to improve power production at affordable rates and give due relief to people who are facing hardships on this account since long.