The impact of COVID-19 on the Electrical Industry Operations and Market in Pakistan – Outlining Possible Solutions

Energy is the requisite stability in a nation’s economy. Sustainable, economical & reliable power transfer is essential for all emerging markets worldwide just like any other basic facility; be it education, medicine or infrastructure. The existence of Covid-19 since 2020 has completely transitioned the conventional outlook & lifestyle globally. Where we witness unpredictability of the pandemic situation in Pakistan through its periodic variant waves, it is also noticeable that Covid-19 induced relieve in workplace environment & modern modes of communication in all industrial sectors too. But it also brought about peculiar complications in different working sectors, especially electrical industries and electric power utilities in the country.

Covid-19 brought quite distortion in the power supply chain in Pakistan with initially a huge decline in its national energy profile. Comparative analysis revealed that Pakistan observed a drop of 15% in the electricity demand during covid-19. One of the main reasons was frequent lockdown enforcements in the country. Many industries minimized their production and services due to declining market business. The mode of work from home and online mode of education was frequently observed during the pandemic. All of these factors contributed to the reduction in electricity demand.  Furthermore, the government of Pakistan had provided subsidy in utility bills to the residential customers as a relaxation during the pandemic which unbalanced the cost of recovery of power utilities (KE and WAPDA), Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Distribution Companies (DISCOs). The electrical utilities also had to prioritize the power reliability at the hospitals for the treatment of chronic illness.

The installation of renewable energy systems, especially solar PV systems continued but at a lower rate. The consequences of decline in business in electrical industry were considerably low job hiring, lack of job opportunities for fresh graduates and frequent drop outs of employees from the firms and industries.

To reshape power industries in Pakistan, there are several tested implementations & proposals as well taken over recent course of time. The vertically integrated utility, K-Electric, planned and started a renewable energy plant project by the name ‘K-Solar’ which shall help the company to recover its capital & deprecation cost suffered previously. The utility can further invest on similar projects to gain sustainability. Furthermore, the Electric Vehicles (EV) are about to get incorporated in transportation network of Pakistan soon. This predicts a building market (workshops, spareparts, batteries etc.) of electric vehicles in the country. The planned charging stations for EVs will help the power utilities to generate revenue by providing power to the charging stations. Lastly, load forecasting needs to be done appropriately considering the observed changes and future electric power production projects need to be planned accordingly. There are many industrial companies, moving towards distributed generation hybrid systems for their units. The maintenance & repair of these systems sustain their running performance. This will require properly trained workforce and product vendors projecting and are expected to create employment opportunities in the area of maintenance, operation, installation and repair. The aforementioned solution discussed can bridge the gap in power sector up to a considerable extent. As long as the pandemic stays, these measures can boost long term implications on electrical industries with the latest photovoltaic technologies, generation & distribution control.

Author: Syed Ameem Mustafa

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