Pakistan Witnesses Enhanced Investment in Energy Sector

By Ayesha Saba

ISLAMABAD, May 12 (INP-WealthPK): For the last many years, the main reason behind the under-utilization of efficient power plants has been the constraints of transmission and distribution networks such as overloading, insufficient transformation capacity of power transformers, and outages.

Overloading transformers over their rated capacity is one of the most serious problems in the power transmission system. As a result, the transmission lines are subjected to forced outages. Around 49% of 500/220KV transformers and 57% of 220/132KV transformers were overloaded (above 80% load) in FY20, according to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC).

For smooth, transparent, and efficient operations, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) emphasized in its State of Industry Report that an independent system operator (SO) must be established immediately, apart from the National Grid Company (NGC). For the required transparency and efficiency in real-time system operation, the SO must quickly implement a state-of-the-art supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. The National Power Control Centre (NPCC) needs to be equipped with adequate human, technical and financial resources to be able to perform its functions effectively in the upcoming competitive market, NEPRA stated.

A spokesperson for the NTDC while speaking to WealthPK said Pakistan’s power sector has long been plagued by problems, but in the last five years, the energy sector has undergone a significant investment phase.

“In order to meet the rising demand for power across the country, the NTDC has opted to expand its infrastructure by building transmission lines and additional grid stations,” he said.

A great example is the launch of the first ±660KV HVDC Matiari Lahore Transmission Line. This 878km-long and 660KV HVDC transmission line has been built under the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative framework.

“This is the largest-ever transmission sector project of the country in terms of its capacity as well as one of the longest in distance,” he stated.

According to the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2020-21, the national grid, which acts as the backbone of the country’s power system, consists of 500 and 220KV lines and the associated grid stations. Total 500KV transmission network during 2019-20 in the country extended well over 7,470 circuit-km supported by 16 grid stations with 25,460MVA transformer capacities. The 220KV transmission network extended over 11,281 circuit-km supported by 45 grid stations with an aggregate total transformer capacity of 30,440MVA. Distribution networks inclusive of 132KV, 66KV, and 33KV voltage levels collectively extended over 37,735km and were supported by 928 grid stations with a total capacity of 53,263 MVA in delivering the electricity to end users dispersed around the country as shown in the table.

Source: https://nepra.org.pk/Admission%20Notices/2021/06%20June/IGCEP%202021.pdf

“To address the basic demand of the population, it is unavoidable to provide electricity to every nook and corner of the country, especially in rural areas. However, the National Grid Company’s cost of transmitting energy to rural places is often too expensive, making it financially unfeasible,” said the NTDC spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the micro/mini-grids have evolved as a feasible way to energize remote rural areas when there is no central grid accessible, whereas the national grid is utilized to deliver power to load centres and densely populated areas.