Shift to energy mix may lead to viable growth, says Sartaj

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz Tuesday said the government's decisive shift from costly thermal power resource to energy mix, would lead to sustainable high economic growth in the country.
"The government is fully focusing on production of energy from various sources including renewable solar, hydro, and wind energy besides LNG and coal-based power projects to overcome the ongoing energy crisis in the country", Sartaj Aziz said while addressing as chief guest at the International Conference on Sustainable Energy Technologies here.
Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan has been suffering from a multi-dimensional energy crisis in the past decade. Power shortages coupled with high cost of electricity have had a very negative impact on the economy and on the lives of the people. 
While new investments were discouraged by the difficult security situation, production from existing capacity was seriously affected by electricity and gas load shedding. As a result, the growth rate had slowed down to an average of 3% between 2006 to 2013. Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz said that the most important thrust of this effort was the CPEC energy package to add 17000 MW to the existing installed capacity of about 20000 MW. Of this about half is in the Early Harvest portfolio which will become operational before the end of 2018, he added.
The Deputy Chairman said that the most of power projects under CPEC are in PPP mode, involving an investment of over $ 30 billion by Chinese companies. Pakistan will buy the electricity at upfront announced prices and will not thus add to it debt burden. He said that in addition to CPEC energy projects, several other projects are being undertaken to add 3000 MW to the system. On energy crisis, Deputy Chairman said simultaneously attention is being paid to transmission and distribution.
During the year 2016-17 the NTDC transmission has been enhanced by adding 3,000 MVA and 2,400 MVA on 500 KV and 220 KV systems respectively. The transmission lines were extended by 87 Km. To enhance the transmission capacity during 2017-18, about 1,200 MVA of 500 KV and 3,000 MVA of 220 KV will be installed along with 1,853 km of 500 KV and 809 Km of 220 kV of transmission lines.
With these projects, the immediate problem of energy shortage will be resolved but the challenge of many other structural issues remains to be addressed specially the energy mix. Currently the share of thermal capacity based on imported oil is almost 40 percent. Even after, the recent decline in oil prices, electricity generated from imported furnace oil or diesel is Rs.15-17 per unit. -NNI