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load-shedding at new peak

ISLAMABAD: The country’s overall power shortage in peak hours has exceeded 4,770MW, causing an average loadshedding of over 10 hours, mainly because of closure of 24 thermal power plants and a substantial reduction in hydropower generation.

load shedding in pakistanOfficial data available with Dawn suggested that a total of 24 thermal power stations of 2,408MW capacity were currently closed because of shortage of gas and furnace oil and forced outages for various technical reasons.

A power ministry official said a shortfall of 450MW on average translated into one hour of loadshedding across the country.

He explained that if major cities were facing a shutdown ranging between four and five hours, it meant the higher loadshedding was being passed on to far-flung areas, where the power disruption could be more than 15 hours.

Sources in the petroleum ministry said that under the gas supply agreements, the power plants were entitled to get supplies on nine-month basis.

They are required to switch over to furnace oil for power production in three winter months, but instead of doing so, such power plants are simply shut down.

Of these, about 780MW of generation capacity from seven generating units remains unutilised because of non-availability of gas while another 17 units, mostly in the public sector, are currently out of order due to different technical problems.

This is in contrast with official claims that power shortage did not go beyond 3,000MW over the last few days.

The official data for Jan 8 indicates that average hydropower generation hovers around 860MW, peaking at 1,332MW in the day time and coming down to 665MW during the night.

The power production from public sector plants, which have a generation capacity of 4,900MW, currently stands at a maximum of 1,290MW.

The Independent Power Producers are currently providing a maximum power supply of more than 6,000MW on average, peaking at 6,368MW.

The rental power projects are providing only 62MW electricity to the national grid.
Interestingly, the three major thermal power stations (both in the public and private sectors) have fuel stocks of less than three days.

The largest thermal power plant — Kot Addu (1,300MW) — has fuel stocks that are sufficient for less than one day of power generation requirement while Hubco Power plant (1,200MW) has stocks to meet only two days of power needs. AES Pakgen and Lalpir with total capacity of 700MW have fuel stocks for less than a day.

On the other hand, the public sector Muzaffargarh generation company with 1,100MW capacity has stocks for 10 days.

Official record suggested that seven units of IPPs, including Jagran, Malakand, AEL and Saba besides three units of Kapco are currently out of production. Of the 16 units in the public sector, about 13 plants are on forced shutdown because of minor technical faults like fan problem, heater tube leakage, instrument problem or water pump problem.

The total installed power generation capacity in the Wapda system is about 18,200MW, but maximum supplies during current winter have not gone beyond 9,000MW this year.

The power ministry sources said the power plants were currently getting only 200mmcfd of natural gas against a commitment of 780 mmcfd. They said the power companies had to close their units due to shortage of gas because their conversion to furnace oil or diesel make its power economically uneconomical for consumers.

The public sector plants that are currently out of order include five units of Guddu thermal stations (430MW), a 168MW plant of Faisalabad, three plants of 520MW of Jamshoro station, and one each of Quetta, Kotri, Muzaffargarh and Northern generation company with a combined capacity of 580MW.

A rental power project (Techno Rental) is also lying idle for want of fuel supplies because the government continues to pay for its capacity charges.

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