Energy is considered to be the lifeline of any economy and the most vital instrument of socioeconomic development. There has been an enormous increase in the demand of energy in Pakistan as a result of industrial development and population growth in comparison to enhancement in energy production. But the supply of energy has been far less than the actual demand, leading to the current crisis. Pakistan’s energy infrastructure is not well developed at all. Currently the country is facing a severe energy crisis, despite encouraging economic growth. There has been rising energy demand over the past decade but no serious efforts have been made to install the required new generation sources. Moreover, rapid demand growth, transmission losses due to outdated infrastructure, power theft and seasonal reductions in the availability of hydropower have worsened the situation. Consequently, the demand exceeds supply and hence load-shedding is a common phenomenon throughout the year.
Pakistan needs around 15,000 to 20000 MW electricity per day. However, currently it is able to produce about 11,500 MW per day hence there is a shortfall of about 4000 to 9000 MW per day. This shortage is badly hampering the economic growth of the country. Pakistan’s energy consumption is met through a mix of gas, oil, electricity, coal and LPG sources with different levels of share. The component of gas consumption stands at 43.7 %, followed by oil 29.0 percent, electricity 15.3 percent, coal 10.4 percent and LPG 1.5 percent. Over the years there is greater need of energy because of increase in population, enhancement in lifestyle, industrial and agricultural growth and greater transportation needs. Energy mix in Pakistan is quite imbalanced in comparison to other countries and there is greater reliance on non-renewable resources. A rational energy mix planning should be developed with greater dependence on renewable (hydel power), indigenous (coal) and alternative energy resources (wind and solar energy). Pakistan has one of the world’s largest coalfields in Thar, with reserves of more than 175 billion tones, which exceeds equivalent oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. In addition to power generation, this coal can be used for chemical and fertilizer production. Moreover, employment provided to the workforce can be instrumental in increasing GDP and economic prosperity. Pakistan has potential of hydro resources to generate 41000 to 45000 MW. Four more large hydro power dams, namely Kalabagh 3600 MW, Bhasha 4500 MW, Bunji 5400 MW and Dasu 3800 MW can be constructed to add to the country’s hydro electricity output. Many small to medium hydro plants can also be installed on rivers and canals.
Energy is pivotal to running of the economy as it directly influences all other sectors. The economic progress is hampered by decline in agricultural productivity as well as by halt in operations of industries. One important factor of lower GDP and inflation of commodity prices in recent years is attributed to shortfalls in energy supply. Agricultural productivity oin Pakistan is also decreasing due to nonprovision of energy for running tube wells, agricultural machinery and production of fertilizers and pesticides. Thus higher energy output means higher agricultural productivity. All industrial units are run with energy and break in energy supply has dire consequences on industrial growth. As a result of decline in energy supply, new industrial units are not being opened and the existing units are gradually closing. As a result of closure of industrial units and less agricultural productivity, new employment opportunities have ceased to exist while employed manpower is being shredded by the employers to increase their profit ratios. Thus the energy crisis contributes towards a decline in key economic sectors and needs to be arrested before things get too far. The energy crisis has plagued all sectors of the economy and is hampering national progress in a drastic manner. Nonetheless, the menace of the energy crisis can be controlled by the government through effective policies and proactive implementation. Simultaneously, it is the responsibility of the people to utilize available energy astutely and wisely.