Electricity in Pakistan is generated, transmitted, distributed and retail supplied by two vertically integrated public sector utilities: Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) for all of Pakistan (except Karachi), and the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for the City of Karachi and its surrounding areas. There are around 16 independent power producers that contributes significantly in electricity generation in Pakistan.
For years, the matter of balancing Pakistan's supply against the demand for electricity has remained a largely unresolved matter. Pakistan faces a significant challenge in revamping its network responsible for the supply of electricity.
While the government claims credit for overseeing a turnaround in the economy through a comprehensive recovery, it has just failed to oversee a similar improvement in the quality of the network for electricity supply.
Some officials even go as far as claiming that the frequent power cuts across Pakistan today are indicative of an emerging prosperity as there is fast rising demand for electricity. And yet, the failure to meet the demand is indeed indicative of a challenge to that very prosperity. Pakistan's electricity producers are now seeking a parity in returns for both domestic and foreign investors which indicates it to be one of the key unresolved issues in overseeing a surge in electricity generation when the country faces growing shortages.
Contrary to Pakistani government and expatriate claims, Pakistan suffers from a massive electricity shortage. Electricity generation in Pakistan has shrunk by 50% in recent years due to an overreliance on hydroelectric power. In 2008, availability of power in Pakistan falls short of the population's needs by 15%Pakistan was hit by its worst power crisis in 2007, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the following riots. Production fell by 6000 Megawatts and massive blackouts followed suit. The blame was laid on the then president, Pervez Musharraf, and was instrumental in his defeat. Load Shedding (deliberate blackouts) and power blackouts have become severe in Pakistan in recent years. The main problem with Pakistan's poor power generation is rising political instability, together with rising demands for power and lack of efficiency.
With power shortages in Pakistan, Iran has been offering to export electricity to Pakistan at subsidized rates but the government of Pakistan has not yet responded to the offers for unknown reasons.
Electricity - total installed capacity: 19,505 MW (2007)
Electricity - Sources (2007)
fossil fuel - 12,580 MW - 65% of total
hydro - 6,463 MW - 33% of total
nuclear - 462 MW - 2% of total
Electricity - production: 88.42 TWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source (2003)
fossil fuel: 63.7% of total
hydro: 33.9% of total
nuclear: 2.4% of total
|Supply and Demand Position: 2008-2020 (MW)|
|Proposal / Committed Generation||530||4,235||7,226||10,115||10,556||13,307||13,520||14,607||16,134||18,448||18,448||18,448||18,448|
|Total Existing/Committed Generation||16,484||20,138||23,129||26,018||26,459||29,210||29,423||30,510||32,037||34,351||34,351||34,351||34,351|
|Expected Available Generation||13,146||16,110||18,503||20,814||21,167||23,368||23,538||24,408||25,630||27,481||27,481||27,481||27,481|
|Demand (Summer Peak)||16,484||17,868||19,352||20,874||22,460||24,126||25,919||28,029||30,223||35,504||34,918||37,907||41,132|
|Source: Private Power and Infrastructure Board - Govt. of Pakistan|
In the short run addressing difficult challenges such as the demand for a parity of treatment to both domestic and foreign investors must make some difference by way of attracting investors across the board. Given the growing demand for electricity, foreign investors must have a role in helping Pakistan meet this challenge.
But the challenges faced by Pakistan are by no means easy. It is indeed the case that the business of reforming the electricity supply network is just not about short term and often incomplete measures of the kind that Pakistanis have been accustomed to.
Even if Pakistan successfully set aside the vast funds which are necessary to finance such a turn-around, the time taken to ensure the supply of all the technical ingredients must in itself make the task formidably challenging.
In the environment which prevails across the world today, there is already a considerable line-up of both individuals and countries which have placed orders to buy new equipment. Indeed, Pakistani officials are all too aware of international market conditions which only add to the difficulty surrounding their task.
Though sorting out global market conditions are just not in reach of one country alone, other matters are indeed within Pakistan's grasp. These include the need to turn around popular habits which hardly help to curtail the usage of electricity, with wastages and deliberate inefficiencies being the principal factors. But the lead for such an endeavour must come in part from Pakistani leaders.
Electricity - consumption: 74.62 TWh (2004)
Electricity - exports: 0%
Electricity - imports: 0%
Electricity Consumption per Capita = 430.183 kWh/capita (2006)
Effects of natural and man made disasters
During 2010 Pakistan floods and 2005 Kashmir earthquake power stations, power distribution and transmission and other energy infrastructures were damaged. During the floods the recently constructed Jinnah hydroelectric power plant was flooded in addition to severe damages to transmission and distribution network and installations while several power plants and refineries were threatened by rising waters and had to be shut down. Natural gas field output had to be reduced as the flood waters approached the wells. There has also been some concern by Pakistani nuclear activists over the effect of natural disasters on nuclear plants specially over the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex, since the plant lies over a geological fault. Due to over reliance of Pakistan on dams for electricity generation, some environmental impacts of dams such as submergence of usable/ecological land and their negative impact on Pakistan's mangrove forests due to loss of river silt load, as well as increased risk of severe floods have become evident.