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LAHORE: Fuel cost and auxiliary consumption (AC) are prime factors behind the high cost of electricity generation in Pakistan, said Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) sources.

They said 35 percent of total electricity is produced from the oil which is an expensive source and mostly imported. In TPPs, they explained, the equipment that is not directly generating the power but assists in the process of power generation such as pumps, fans, and compressors are known as auxiliary equipment and power consumed by them is called AC. Many energy conservation measures such as impeller trimming and de-staging, boiler feed pump, high voltage inverter, variable frequency drive, and upgrading the existing cooling tower fan blades with fibre-reinforced plastic are discussed to overcome higher the AC.

They said most of the power plants are not working on their dependable capacity and even some have units out of operation. The closed units of Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) cause a major contribution to a higher percentage of AC because some auxiliary equipment (cooling tower fan and condensate feed pump) would not operate at their full capacity.

In addition, energy is consumed by plant building (lighting, cooling, etc.) also have significant impacts on its AC. The AC could be decreased to an acceptable level by operating the power plant to their dependable capacity which will increase gross generation.

It is suggested that the implementation of comprehensive preventive maintenance for all power plants, improvement in plant operation, up-gradation with the latest technologies can reduce the AC to an acceptable level.

Besides, below capacity operations, frequent operational interruptions, improper maintenance, low care for rehabilitation of closed units, costly fuels and improper utilization of renewable energy resources are a few other factors behind high generation cost of electricity through Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) in Pakistan, they added.

According to sources, the operation of the power plant is frequently aborted by a shortfall of water in rivers for a long period. Thus, in this period net, the electric output of TPP is negative i.e. considered as a loss. This loss is accomplished when the power plant is in operation. Similarly, they said, improper maintenance gradually degrades the performance of plant equipment. Therefore, the plant becomes less efficient with higher generation cost. In addition, low care for rehabilitation of closed units of power plants leads to depletion of the assets without production.

They said the use of costly fuels leads to the high cost of generation of electricity in Pakistan. For example, they said, oil accounts for 35 percent of total electricity generation as compared to only 0.1 percent of coal.

The sources have suggested replacing various inefficient auxiliary equipment with the most efficient one. Furthermore, they said the TPPs should operate on optimum load factor along with the installation of variable frequency drive along with impeller trimming.

Also there is a need for minimizing pressure loss in condenser components and elimination of steam and condensate water leakage losses in various fitting and joint with proper maintenance. They said the thermal power plants should replace the existing blade of cooling tower fan with fibre-reinforced plastic material and low voltage variable frequency drive (VFD) inverter with high voltage while implementing innovative and modernized techniques.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020