Monday, October 25, 2010

Electricity for All-rural electrification ?

Electricity for All ,Rural Electrification ?

Electricity for All remains an elusive goal for the developing world including Pakistan, like many other similar goals that have defied fulfillment. Major failure has been in the rural areas, where bulk of the population still lives, which trend is fast changing. Within the rural areas, even if a village is electrified, the access to electricity may not be to all for a variety of well understood reasons. Therefore, although rural electrification is a step in that direction, it may not in itself result into,” Electricity for all “; more may have to be done to achieve that.

On a global level, 78.2% of the world population has access to electricity of sorts, as against South Asian average of 60.2% .In Pakistan, access rate is 70.4% , out of which 60% is rural and 93% urban. According to the Mouza statistics, 64% of Mouzas have electricity, 19% have no electricity at all, and the rest are in between. It may be of interest to keep in view the comparative, cooking fuel availability. Only 20% of people in Pakistan use natural gas, of which 58% live in urban areas and 2.83% in rural areas. Two-third (68.83%) of Pakistan’s population uses wood as fuel, no wonder deforestation is so endemic. Wood use is the highest in KP, up to 83% of households, a major cause of flood aggravation. There is a considerable confusion as to what is a village in statistical terms. There are some 47482 Mouzas, and some 150,000 villages (deh) in Pakistan. Mouza is a larger agricultural/population cluster; on the average, there are three deh/villages to a Mouza.

Electricity for All had to be achieved by 2007, by electrifying all the villages in Pakistan. As per WAPDA website, all villages have been electrified. , which is obviously not true and is infact grossly misleading. This may be true that quite some effort was applied by GOP, between 2002 and 2007, to electrify villages. The programme ran out of steam after 2005, perhaps due to financial and power supply shortages. There are conflicting numbers; some data suggests that out of 125, ooo villages, only 81,000 have been electrified, and 40,000 villages remain to be electrified. If that is correct, then some 31% villages have yet to be electrified, a huge task ahead indeed.

Leaving aside data controversy, it has been studied that about 8000 villages may not be electrified at all ,in foreseeable future , keeping in view the long term grid expansion plan . Rural Electrification project has targeted these villages for electrification, mostly through solar energy. The programme has been estimated to cost 500 Million USD .GOP had committed 18 MUSD, to electrify 400 villages (3200 house-holds) in Sindh and 300 villages in Balochistan.

One Solar Household system (SHS) has been assigned a Solar PV installed capacity of 50-120 Watts. For, 1000,000 house-holds in 10,000 villages would generate a demand of 100 MW of solar PV power. This would also mean, a 100 kW load per village. At a rate of 4 USD per watt for PV capital costs, it adds up to 400 MUSD for generation and a 100 MUSD extra for other costs. Admittedly cost estimates appear to be reasonable.

However, only 18 MUSD has been committed, which would not meet more than 5 % of the target, according to the afore-mentioned numbers? It is also doubtful, that reasonably sufficient funds would be available to implement this programme any sooner, esp. in the scenario of economic and budgetary difficulties in the post-flood situation.

There is one shaft of hope that Solar PV costs are fast coming down. Already, PV costs of under 1 USD are being quoted, although of solar PV Cells only. It is expected that by 2015, solar prices would be competitive with fossil power. Thus one may have to be a little less ambitious, run the program at a slow speed, and go in high gear after 2005.There are, however, a few solar application that may already be competitive and affordable. Solar Pumps with DC motors do not require expensive balance -of -the –system (BOS) ancillaries. For these applications 2 USD per Kw of solar PV costs would be competitive with expensive diesel based power. Some of such applications could be continued with whatever funds that may drip by.

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