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Pakistan’s current electrical power and transmission system is plagued by absence of innovation and R&D. Owned and operated by Public Sector Organisations for 75 years, the Pakistani consumers and businesses have paid the price for inefficient power management practices that have thrived under decades of red-tapism, Ad hoc policies and lack of a political reform of the system for the betterment.

It is widely proven that the implementation of new technologies in T&D System can significantly improve the efficiency of the system, which is also need of the hour for Pakistan in these critical times.

Undoubtedly, there are several initiatives taken by the GoP to enhance the generation of electrical power through efficient sources, which are collectively called as renewable energy sources, including but not limited to solar, wind, hydro power projects, etc. The energy generated through these sources is considered as Clean & Green Energy. But as we move to the next step, i.e., transmission and distribution of the clean and green energy, our utilities are stuck with the same old inefficient Overhead Line (OHL) conductors while neighbouring countries have moved on to successful greener options.

Efficiency is part of the UN’s SDGs heavily endorsed by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that are funding major T&D projects in Pakistan. IFIs have already modified their procurement policies based on upgraded energy policies for adopting efficient technologies as a step towards sustainable development. Instead, for projects promoting efficient technologies, reducing CO2/Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, IFIs are providing special financing opportunities.

OHL conductors, a major component, being transmission medium, are contributing majorly towards increasing T&D line losses, but are completely ignored by the utilities’ segment in Pakistan. The use of efficient OHL conductors can help the national exchequer save a good amount of money in terms of significantly reduced line losses. Efficient OHL conductors provide multiple benefits under various conditions and as per requirements by utilities. Capacity enhancement of existing overloaded transmission lines in densely populated areas by replacing the existing conventional OHL conductors is just another advantage.

With the increase in the population of major metropolitan areas, not only are we seeing an increase in electricity demand, it is also getting progressively difficult for the distribution companies to lay down new transmission and distribution lines. This is primarily because it has become extremely challenging to install new transmission lines owing to congestion in populated areas. The only viable solution to work through this situation is to increase the transmission capacity of existing transmission lines.

One of such efficient OHL conductors, Aluminum Conductor Composite Core (ACCC), is already being manufactured in Pakistan by Pakistan Cables, the leading cable and conductor manufacturer. ACCC® is a US patented technology, been successfully rolled out by 250+ utilities in 50+ countries with 120,000 kilometers already installed and operational. Emerging markets that face grid related issues similar to Pakistan, such as China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. are quick to adopt this technology immediately realising its benefits and saving huge amounts by reducing line losses.

ACCC is also proven to substantially reduce CO2 emissions associated with line losses. SCS Global Services (SCS), an international leader in third-party certification, validation, and verification for environmental, sustainability, and food safety and quality performance claims, conducted an assessment to compare the line losses and CO2 emissions associated with ACCC Conductors and conventional conductors.

Based on SCS’s findings, the ACCC technology in lieu of conventional conductors will reduce line losses and associated CO2 emissions by 27-31%. Although the actual CO2 benefit will vary on a project-by-project basis, installation of ACCC Technology clearly provides a way to reduce CO2 emissions from transmission line losses, while full utilization of existing ROWs is an added advantage. With significant reduction in CO2 emissions, ACCC can provide opportunities to GoP to capture special financing for transmission and distribution line projects.

In spite of all the benefits that can be obtained using efficient conductors in transmission and distribution system, the dilemma of the overall Public Procurement Process in Pakistan succumbing to cheaper prices and compromising on the quality with a complete disregard towards the life cycle of efficient products that are an investment into the economy of the country and in today’s world safety net for the planet.

Industries around the world lead innovation, business and market developments thereby playing a key role in any economy. The utilities segment in Pakistan remains oblivious to market needs and growing consumer needs.

Opting for efficient and greener technologies is no longer an option; it is the only choice for Pakistan. Firm commitment of R&D in the public sector organizations is tough to implement till policy makers and decision makers will not collaborate with the industry player to make the much needed economic and social impact required for a productive power transmission and distribution system of Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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