EDITORIAL: The country needs to vigorously pursue the objective of energy conservation; there are no two ways about it. And this is not merely due to the severe financial crisis facing the country now.
It is important to realise the criticality of the situation that with every passing month, the need acquires increasing urgency.
When the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) government came to power in April last year, there were recommendations coming from economists, business councils and other platforms for devising and implementing a plan to ration energy use to lower the consumption during peak summer season to reduce the ever-rising energy import bill in order to avoid the situation that Pakistan is experiencing during this winter.
Anyway, the government is doing it now. Some may say ‘it’s too little and too late’. Given the precarious balance of payment (BoP) situation, such an observation is not warranted. There are elements in the policy announced by the government to conserve energy by using energy-efficient technology fans, lights, and geysers to avoid energy loss.
No wonder these are needed. But the need has been there for many years. And it is not the first time such steps are being discussed. And may not be the last time. Yet, the efforts to move towards efficient use of energy are conspicuous by their absence.
This winter, the government is still encouraging the use of gas for heating. The gas prices haven’t been revised upwards. People are still using inefficient geysers on piped gas.
The government is diverting gas from efficient use in power generation to pipeline networks where not only are transmission and distribution losses high, the use is also inefficient. And that too is adding to the build-up of circular debt in the gas sector and load-shedding in the power sector.
Such steps need a political resolve backed by courage, which is unfortunately missing, so to speak. It was missing in the PTI government’s tenure as well. The country simply cannot afford such slackness anymore.
Energy must be diverted to its most efficient use and for that pricing is the tested method to do so. The use of daylight hours for commercial activities should be maximized. Markets must open early and close by sunset so as to economize power consumption.
Developed countries, in fact, adjust their clocks an hour back and forth just to ensure such savings through maximising the use of daylight for commercial activities and market timings. It is described as ‘daylight saving time’. The load during the day-saving plans should be all year round.
There are several cross subsidies in the energy sector. There is a merit order in the power sector but there is no merit order for the efficient use of primary energy. The country is on the verge of default. Unfortunately, however, the power and gas sector circular debts are growing.
The number runs in hundreds of billions of rupees whereas the savings the government is planning would have an impact of hardly a few billion rupees. They need to think big and holistically.
Business Recorder supports and encourages any form of energy conservation plan. In fact, the need is to do much more. We as a people need to alter our lifestyle before it is forced upon us through falling purchasing power and inability to import requisite fuel.
In the developed world, malls and shops start operating early in the morning and close by evening. Even in India, the situation is much better than what we have in Pakistan.
Our countrymen need to change the way they operate and for that, the government needs not only to enforce such measures but also educate people on the efficient use of energy to save dollars and environment.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023
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