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ISLAMABAD: National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) is all set to hold a hearing on Wednesday (tomorrow) on NTDC's "controversial" Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2047 covering the future horizon of energy for 28 years i.e., from 2020 to 2047 encapsulating electric power generation additions required in order to meet the future energy and power demand of Pakistan.

The generation planning study is composed of two key processes: (i) load forecast; and then (ii) generation capacity expansion and despatch optimization exercises. Both processes involve complex statistical and computation efforts performed using dedicated software for forecasting and expansion planning.

The base case result shows that to meet a demand of 43,820 MW by the year 2030, a generation capacity of 76,391 MW is required. To meet the demand by the year 2030 the share from Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) resources i.e., 10,327 MW of wind and 12,793 MW of solar, respectively.

Similarly, in order to meet the demand of 103,065 MW by the year 2047, a total of 168,246 MW of nominal generation capacity is required. And 32,948 MW of STs on Thar coal, 4,749 MW of CCGTs and 25,828 MW of OCGTs on RLNG, 55,836 MW of hydro, 1,000 MW of CASA, 913 MW of bagasse, 4,407 MW of nuclear, 5,297 MW of imported coal, 26,921 MW of solar and 10,327 MW of wind-based generation have been made available by the software. A total of 97,080 MW of nominal generation capacity has been optimized by the software during the period 2031-47.

The RLNG-based plants, though installed and available are envisaged to have a decreasing share in the energy mix from 2020 to 2047 i.e. from 26% to 11% in 2025 and then eventually falling to merely 1% beyond 2034. Similar trend is there for imported coal-based plants whose contribution in the overall generation mix falls from 18% in 2020 to only 1% by the year 2047. Moreover, the share of wind and solar in the overall energy mix increases from about 3% in 2020 to 23% in 2030. Beyond 2030, the share of solar and wind plants decreases due to the increase in the number of new local coal-based plants having greater capacity factors.

The overall generation capacity in the system envisages increases from 33,000+ MW in 2020 to around 168,200 MW in 2047. Major increase in the capacity is observed in the hydropower, local coal, VRE and RLNG based plants. New VRE plants are suggested by PLEXOS being cheaper source of energy. This results in the capacity addition of around 35,762 MW of solar and wind up till 2047. Moreover, the results also show the capacity of 45,929 MW hydropower, 1,562 MW imported coal, 32,345 MW local coal, 27,071 MW RLNG, 3,177 MW nuclear energy and 654 MW bagasse power plants are selected by the software.

According to normal GDP growth scenario forecast, energy generation in GWh grows at Cumulative Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4%, 5%, 5.6%, 6.1% and 4.6% by 2025, 2030, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2047 respectively. Similarly, peak demand in MW grows at CAGR of 4.9%, 5.3%, 5.6%, 6.1% and 4.6% by 2025, 2030, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2047 respectively.

Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), which deals with private power projects, is of the view that coal and hydel projects should replace RLNG projects.

"A large number of Candidate RLNG projects in year 2028 onwards have been listed; however imported fuel based power projects are banned by GoP. Therefore all such imported fuel based projects be converted into candidate Local Coal and/or hydropower projects," PPIB, which extended full support to RLNG projects said, in its comments.

PPIB further stated that 27 years (2020 to 2047) horizon of IGCEP is too long. CODs of 720 MW Karot HPP and 884 MW Suki Kinari lIPP (both under construction/committed category project) have been mentioned in IGCEP as 2022 and 2023, respectively. PPIB has recently signed agreements on Kohala hydropower project and Patrind hydropower project.

Thar/Local Coal based Power Projects are being developed through Chinese financing, as International Multilateral Financing Agencies are reluctant to finance these base load power projects. Therefore, this limited available opportunity of financing of coal based power projects needs to be prioritized for which sufficient block allocation in IGCEP is required.

PPIB further states that projects having committed availability of transmission lines should be given due weightage/ preference for inclusion in IGCEP (for instance Mahl HPP whose proposed power evacuation transmission line will be completed in 2022 as per Suki Kinari HPP timeline whereas in IGCEP its COD is envisaged in 2030 thus leaving the TIL investment redundant for many years due to under capacity operation of the TIL). This aspect merits due attention comparatively both in time-wise and cost-wise competing scenarios.

The COD of 1320 MW Oracle Power Project, being a CPEC Priority Project is in year 2027 and 2030 in two phases of 660 MW each. Hence, the project may be re-considered, while keeping in view the latest demand-supply situation and other parameters.

The KP government has also raised objections on the IGCEP due to which high level changes in bureaucracy of Power Division was made as the provincial government was unhappy with the plan.

Wapda argues that it is actively working on three hydropower projects of Dasu, Mohmand and Diamer Basha which are expected to start electricity generation between the year 2024 - 2028. These projects being of great importance will prove to be the real game changer and deemed necessary for sustainable economic growth of the country.

Chairman Wapda said that civil contract for Diamer Basha Mega project has already been awarded with expected completion date of 2028 and the project will generate 4500 MW Power with annual energy of 18097 GWh but the IGCEP 2047 indicated the commissioning of the Project during 2043 being an issue of serious concern and raised questions on the authenticity of IGCEP report. The staking sequence and commissioning dates of some future Wapda Projects like Thakot I and III also require to be adjusted to depict the true scenario.

The planning and implementation of power evacuation from all these projects need to be finalized on a war footing basis specially for the projects located in the tough terrain of Northern Areas hardly accessible and having limited flexibility in the narrow transmission corridor.

The government of AJ&K has stated that hydropower should be given priority above all other generation options and allowed implementation at fast pace even earlier than the planned commissioning wherever practically achievable. In this effort all hydropower projects but more importantly hydropower in AJ&K should be pushed to be implemented in the greater interest of future generations and their security.

COD of hydropower projects should be planned considering real progress and accordingly the projects should be immediately brought back for COD between 2025 and 2030, based on their actual status. Consistency should be exercised in IGCEP, from one year to the next and projects included in one year should not be pushed out in the next as this will give confused signals to developers. Hydropower is the most prevalent renewable source of energy worldwide and should be classified as such in AJ&K/Pakistan. IGCEP's wrong classification of hydropower as an expensive generation option only on basis of construction cost, without considering lifecycle cost and fuel cost of thermal, should be corrected.

According to IGCEP, demand Side Management (DSM) options should be studied and built into the IGCEP by coordinating and working closely with NEECA and other relevant agencies in the country. Alternative and renewable energy generation targets assessed and established by AEDB in consultation with Discos in various parts of the country including both on-grid and off-grid should be included in the future editions of the IGCEP to give these promising new technologies their due share.

Power generation policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to align the policy instruments with the latest trends in generation technologies and other factors that can influence both the demand and supply side of the electricity business.

Planning process should be more comprehensive, both in scope and depth. Instead of yearly updating, IGCEP should be revised every five years. It will reduce unpredictability and will also minimize risks for the potential investors. Appropriate modification to this effect should be made in the Grid Code, i.e., Access to data and quality data must be facilitated and further improved. A central data repository may be formed to facilitate planners and policy makers, having specific data privileges and to ensure access to quality data, for data modeling and decision making. In a similar vein, project execution entities should enhance and accelerate their response, with respect to provision of project data to NTDC, for updating of the IGCEP, in a precise and timely manner.

The draft plan has further proposed that aggressive targets with respect to induction of renewable energy resources, set by the government and optimized through the generation planning software will need to be incorporated in the future plans to give these promising new options their due share in future supply portfolios.

Though not envisaged in the prevailing schemes, wind power projects can provide grid support such as frequency regulation, voltage regulation, and reserve power provided hybridization is opted with solar PV as well as battery energy storage. Grid impact and economic implication studies for individual wind power plant will need to be carried out by the stakeholders.

The plan says that Pakistan's transition to 'utility of the future' will require a thorough revamping of the power sector's legal and regulatory frameworks, institutional structure, physical systems, business operating model, and leadership and managerial styles.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020