Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to Produce Abundant Electricity in Pakistan!

January 1, 2014
 By Saeed Qureshi
 I am laying down here a novel way to produce, instant, cheap and abundant electricity in Pakistan. It is merely a brainwave and could be mere fantasy. Here it is.

Currently Pakistan’s two overriding problems are terrorism and acute shortage of energy. Electricity and gas is fundamental and indispensible to run the households and industries. If houses are lit and warm, there would be a healthy nation both physically and mentally. If we have enough electricity and gas we can embark upon the road to progress with confidence and assurance. 

When the industries would run full time, the people would get jobs and exports would increase voluminously bringing foreign exchange. The quality of life would heighten and a robust nation would start shaping up.

Now the respective governments in Pakistan have failed to generate electric power that was easy from the start as Pakistan is blessed with vast water resources such as lakes and rivers. Unfortunately the upper riparian is India for whom even a miniscule economic and social progress of Pakistan is an anathema.
  The Indus Waters Treaty is a World Bank brokered water-sharing treaty signed between Pakistan and India in 1960.

 According to that treaty India has exclusive water usage rights on three eastern rivers namely Bias, Sutlej and Ravi. Also, the treaty gives Pakistan exclusive use of the western rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus “but with some stipulations for development of projects on these rivers in India”. Yet India has been flouting this agreement with willful abandon. Pakistan is not in a situation to force India for strict compliance of that accord that deprived Pakistan of three of its rivers.

During the past several decades India has been steadily constructing dams for power generation. As such power is stored in the big lakes and Pakistan remains with fingers crossed when the excess water would flow down for use. Pakistan is an extremely difficult and most unenviable position in getting water from the Indian side and there is likelihood that it would face severe hardships such as famine and drought in the coming years and decades.

The river Indus is getting smaller and smaller as most of its tributaries are located in India and its water is also being conserved in the under construction Indian dams. Thus the prime source of water for Pakistan’s rural sector and for making hydel power plants is being depleted barring the rain water that fills it occasionally during the monsoon season. Pakistan should be prepared to wash its hands of an ensured and enough supply of water flowing down from the upper reaches of Himalayan ranges.

So the paramount question arises: what should be done in face of such a harrowing and dismal scenario for adequate power generation. Let me dish out my thoughts over the generation of electric energy without depending upon the water from the five rivers or a strong and full blown rain shower from the sky every year. 

I am putting up this plan before the experts and engineers associated with the power sector who would be in a better position to judge and scrutinize it and ascertain the possibility of its practical implementation. I would like to have feedback from my countless readers to figure out if this plan is workable and can be put to fruitful use.

Before I start unraveling the contents of the plan I wonder why the respective countries suffering from shortage of power has not envisaged this plan that can certainly help overcome their energy crises. Well I could be entertaining rosy picture detached from reality. Yet I believe that with some modifications if needed, this can be put to test. 

As we all are aware, oceans are huge lakes with interminable quantity of water. The power from hydel project is generated when the turbines are run by a powerful current of water dropped on these. That current comes from the stored water of dams like Tarbela or Mangla Now let us suppose that when the sea water is raised to a required level through pipes and then dropped on the turbines installed along the coast, would it not produce the electricity. The ocean has long coasts and therefore any number of turbines can be installed all along.

There is a technical glitch in this scheme and that is how the water could flow down back to the sea as water keeps its level equal. The other question is from where the power comes to raise the water to a required level that it can rotate the turbine with enough speed and thrust to generate electricity. These are the questions for technocrats and engineers to address. 

What I can say on my behalf is that when the water would be raised to suppose 100 feet it would fall on the turbine down below that can be kept a little bit high from the sea level to allow it to flow back into the sea. Initially diesel or gas can be used to operate the turbine. When turbine become functional the power produced by these can be partially utilized on their operation as well. It would then be self-propelling system.

As for the height or the diameter of the pipes it is again for the experts to determine what could be the best technical data to make the projects feasible. If this project is practicable and takes off, then Pakistan can get rid of the chronic power shortage that has debilitated its economy and undermined the quality of life in Pakistan. These units can function round the year and thus there would be constant electricity supply to the country.

The power thus generated would have to be connected with the main national grid through a transmission line. That remission network will have to be built without any loss of time and there doesn’t seem to be any hitch in connecting the coastal power producing units with the main grid.

The engineers can sketch the plan how long and deep the water carrying pipes should be immersed in the sea water, how high these should be lifted and the location of the turbines for an easy and uninterrupted flow of water back to sea.

A secondary plan could be to build big lakes on the rivers after every 50 or 100 miles. These lakes can be filled with water that can be raised to a required level to be dropped on the turbines. It would be like makeshift dam for both water and electricity production. Presumably ten such walled dams could be built over Indus where not only the river water can be conserved but the rain water from adjoining areas can also flow into these lakes for farming and drinking round the year.

If wonder if there is someone among my readers who have access to the water and power ministry to inform the stalwarts there about this plan. I can elaborate these schemes further if I am asked to do so. I pray and wish that the bureaucracy wakes up to its responsibilities and earnestly unfolds plans that benefit out poor and energy starved country. In the next article I shall present a foolproof strategy to curb definitively the Kunda culture and stealing of the electricity and gas in Pakistan.


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