Electricity Crisis in Pakistan

Posted on January 6, 2009
Filed Under >Jauhar Ismail, Economy & Development
Total Views: 73453

Jauhar Ismail

The latest crisis that has Pakistani’s from all walks of life up in arms is the lack of electrical power throughout the country. While rolling blackouts or load shedding as its locally known has always been a staple of daily life in Pakistan, the problem has become acute in the last couple of years. In the second half of December, the situation got so bad that WAPDA & KESC (power generation entities in Pakistan) resorted to draconian levels of load shedding. The power cuts during this time amounted to 20-22 hours a day in most small cities and even cities like Karachi were seeing 18+ hours of load shedding.

Notwithstanding the systemic issues such as the failure to build new dams and previous Government’s inability to add even a single megawatt of new power to the grid during 9 years of its rule, it seems that the present crisis is a result of bad management and the lack of foresight. The total installed capacity of WAPDA and KESC totals around 19,500 megawatts. Almost two third of this power comes from thermal power plants (fossil fuels), one third is generated by water and about 2% comes from nuclear power plants.

The demand for electricity in Pakistan during the winter months actually goes down and this winter has not been an exception. Throughout the month of December, the electricity consumption in Pakistan hovered around 11,000 MW, down from the peak levels of 17,500 MW seen in summer. This demand was well within the installed capacity of WAPDA & KESC yet they were only generating a meager one third (6500MW) of their maximum capacity during this period leaving a huge gap between supply and demand. Their are two main reasons for this:

1. The water flow from all major dams was halted starting mid December to allow the annual cleaning of canals in January. This action effectively took all the hydro power off line.

2. The thermal power plants were working far below their potential due to the lack of money caused by the circular debt between various government agencies reaching a staggering 400 billion Rupees.

None of these issues could have possibly come as a surprise to the present government yet they choose to do nothing until violent anti government protests erupted in all major cities. A couple of days ago the President of Pakistan finally convened a summit of all stakeholders and since then the situation has improved somewhat but this fiasco provides another example of the misplaced priorities of our democratically elected leaders.

Instead of issuing stamps and coins bearing Benazir’s logo and dedicating existing airports to her name, they should focus on the plight of everyday people and try to make their lives a little bit better. Everyone understands that Pakistan is facing serious problems requiring long term solutions and the present government can’t be expected to make significant headway in the short term, yet there are things where it can make a difference. Eliminating load shedding during the winter months could just be one of them.

Photo Credits: Mona Akmal for title photo

Similar Posts at ATP:

1. What is Wrong with KESC
2. The Daredevil Electricians of Pakistan
3. Harnessing Wind energy in Baldia Town
4. KESC, Karachi and the Power Outages
5. More Crisis in Pakistan – Electricity, Flour, Sugar, Gas – What is the way out?
6. Conservation – bijli bachaao muhim
7. andher nagri

38 responses to “Electricity Crisis in Pakistan”

  1. Yousuf says:

    I don’t know why KESC in debts with WAPDA while KESC collecting huge amount from people of karachi charging high amount electricity bills.

  2. Qaisar says:

    I am really surprised that why people paying electricity bills who had no electricity 22 hours a day. They also don’t come out and even think to raise their voice. I think the people of Pakistan deserve to be treated like this by the politicians. It’s funny to wait for bill sitting without electricity.

  3. Adnan says:

    The solutions of Electricity Crisis in Pakistan are
    (1) Build Bhasha & other Dams soon as soon possible. Use of oil and gas is not suitable for electricity generation because its high cost. Hydro electricity is the cheapest source of energy.
    (2) Wind Turbines must be install in coastal area of Sindh and Balochistan.
    (3) Wind Turbines and solar panels must be use on individuals level on their house roofs. So they can generate own electricity for themselves. Manufactures must prepare Wind Turbines locally on commercial basis. So can every body can use its.

  4. Bangash says:


    well if Islamabad paid the hydro royalties to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on time and fully, rather than in patches or sometimes not at all in last 35 years, then KP would have been amenable to more dams.

    I like Mr Fayaz Samo remark about Pakistan being nuclear power with no electricity, it shows us the harm that total focus on military has brought to Pakistan.

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