Energy conservation | By Naveed Aman Khan

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Energy conservation

ENERGY saving is the need of the hour. The nation is alarmingly facing energy shortfall. Better results be achieved with the adoption of daylight-saving time, which help in the rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

The government should switch over to daylight saving time by advancing the clock by one hour, which will help utilize daylight and make savings in energy import. This measure would not only improve the productivity and performance of trade and industry, but help reduce the effects of power shortage also.

The federal government’s decision to close shops by 8pm and wedding halls by 10pm in view of the current difficult economic situation should be lauded.

The improvement in energy efficiency could benefit the entire economy including the gross domestic product (GDP), employment, trade balance and energy prices.

Our energy import bill has increased to $28 billion and if it continues to surge, more difficult scenario will emerge. Energy conservation would result in savings in oil and gas imports, ultimately protecting the critical foreign exchange reserves.

The extra daylight hour will give boost to businesses and increase economic activity. It will be more appropriate to refer to it as daylight optimization time. Business class must learn to start early. They get up late and reach workplaces by noon, when almost half of the day is gone. This habit is spoiling the younger generation.

Daylight saving time is adopted by many countries to save energy. Almost 64 countries followed this in 2022, which included Turkey, Iran, Canada, the US, the European Union and others.

Daylight saving time results are always positive for the economy and it never burdens the government with additional costs. It is considered a stimulant for economic growth and labour productivity.

Restaurant timings may be extended by one hour till 11pm while limiting the timings of wedding halls and shops is the need of the hour. Markets across the world were closed around 6-7 pm and Pakistan is among a few countries that do not utilize the daylight benefits.

This cannot continue any longer as the country is passing through difficult economic times. People must adapt to a new habit and help the economy survive. In India, the air conditioner manufacturers are required to set default temperature at 24 degrees.

This means that the air conditioner will automatically cool a room or a workplace at 24 degrees instead of 20 or 22 degrees. Though consumers have the option to change it, but many do not do it, thus saving energy.

Most energy crises have been caused by localized shortages, wars and market manipulation.

Some have argued that government actions like tax hikes, nationalization of energy companies, and regulation of the energy sector, shift supply and demand of energy away from its economic equilibrium.

The recent energy crisis was not caused by such factors. Market failure is possible when monopoly manipulation of markets occurs. A crisis can develop due to industrial actions like union organized strikes and government embargoes.

The cause may be over-consumption, aging infrastructure, choke point disruption or bottlenecks at oil refineries and port facilities that restrict fuel supply. An emergency may emerge during very cold winters due to increased consumption of energy.

The macroeconomic implications of a supply shock-induced energy crisis are large, because energy is the resource used to exploit all other resources.

Oil price shocks affect the economy through delayed business investment, sectoral shifts in the labour market, or monetary policy responses. When energy markets fail, an energy shortage develops.

Electricity consumers experience intentionally engineered rolling blackouts during periods of insufficient supply or unexpected power outages, regardless of the cause.

We are dependent on oil, and efforts to restrict the supply of oil would have an adverse effect on the economies of oil producers. For the consumer, the price of natural gas, gasoline (petrol) and diesel for vehicles rises.

An early response from stakeholders is the call for investigations and commissions into the price of fuels. There are also movements towards the development of more sustainable urban infrastructure.

Energy shortages influence public opinion on subjects from nuclear power plants to electric blankets.

Building construction techniques improved insulation, reflective roofs, thermally efficient windows, reduce heating costs. An electricity shortage is felt most acutely in heating, cooking, and water supply. A sustained energy crisis may become a humanitarian crisis.

If an energy shortage is prolonged a crisis management phase is enforced by authorities. Energy audits may be conducted to monitor usage. The privileged class mercilessly enjoy free electricity, free gas, free petrol and diesel. I have seen unnecessary usage of gas heaters and air conditioners in government offices.

All these privileges be curtailed up to 60 per cent. Above politics, to control floods and regulate water shortage, Kalabagh Dam and Diamir Bhasha Dam be constructed without wasting a moment.

Moreover, to meet the local energy requirements in windy regions wind mills be setup. Solar energy be opted as an alternative source. To preserve energy, we need to think and behave like a reasonable and responsible nation.

—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.