A country’s human and socioeconomic progress is broadly dependent on its energy potential, which can be expressed simply in terms of its energy contribution per capita [1
]. There has been a significant growth in the global population and a rise in living standards that account for a raised demand of power and energy, especially in the developing countries [2
]. As the energy demand is rising, the energy prices have also been increasing, which along with the recent geopolitical events, has drawn the world’s attention toward the vital role played by affordable and sustainable energy in economic growth and human development [3
shows an increase in the energy resources demand up to the year 2030. It can be observed that even though the energy demand using coal, oil, and gas has significantly increased, there will be a substantial rise in the use of renewable energy sources. In 2007, the world electrical energy production was 16,429 Terawatt-hour (TWh), and its projected consumption in 2030 is 28,930 TWh i.e., a 49% increase in the global energy demand and 87% rise in world electricity generation is expected [4
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports the improvement of the overall provision of energy from primary sources to 12,717 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) in 2010, which was up from 6107 MTOE in 1973, and includes oil, coal, natural gas, biofuels, nuclear, hydro, and various other resources with contributions of 32.4%, 27.3%, 21.4%, 10%, 5.7%, 2.3%, and 0.9%, respectively [6
]. Group of Eight (G8) leaders met the heads of major developing countries and international organizations in 2005 and 2006, to work together with the IEA regarding clean and prosperous alternate scenarios of obtaining energy in future [3
shows the projected electricity demand and supply from 2016 to 2020. It is expected that by 2020, the world will be able to bridge the energy and supply gap, and will also have a surplus power of 3491 megawatts (MW). Rapid decline in the worldwide fossil fuel resources and their impulsively instable costs have posed damage to the world’s economy. The climate of the planet is affected by their abuse, causing an amplified degree of pollution, damage to the ozone layer, and extraordinary variations in the earth’s climate. The inimitability of fossil fuels in the current energy scenario and their value to future generations is also certain [7
]. Table 1
shows the energy situation using renewable resources by 2040. The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) projected in 2006 that by 2040, 50% of the world’s energy will come from renewables [8
Pakistan ranks sixth in the world’s most populous countries with 173.51 million people, and by 2050, it is predicted to be number four. At present, Pakistan has daunting problems regarding inadequate installed capacity, revenue shortage, and circular debt for energy production [9
]. The energy sector majorly relies on conventional resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Due to increase in their demand, the country is facing a shortfall of these natural resources. Their use releases greenhouse gases, rendering them unfit for the environment. The deviations caused by man’s actions in nature and the nature’s response to these actions have greatly affected the environment of our planet in the last decades [10
]. People around the globe are becoming aware of the finiteness of the natural resources and the threat to future generations due to their non-conservation [12
]. The oil reserves of the world are located in regions of political and ethnic conflicts that are challenging to solve in a short time span [13
]. Also, the fluctuation in furnace oil prices and the per-unit cost of electricity, along with the inflation rate, have adversely pressurized the national economy [14
The rift of 5201 MW (range 3000–6000 MW) in the demand and supply of power and energy, as of 2015, caused a daily power cut of 14–18 h. Even after some progress in the energy sector, the country still faces some deficit. The use of renewable energy resources will not only put an end to the deficit, but surplus energy will be available in coming years, as predicted in Figure 2
]. So, it is necessary to adopt renewable resources, considering their superabundance, sustainability, native availability, and environment safety [16
]. Earth has a plentiful amount of the resources that are needed for the successful development of solar, hydraulic, wind, geothermal, and biomass-based projects, enabling a diversity in the country’s energy mix [17
]. Pakistan’s current energy fuel mix based on installed capacity is shown in Figure 3
. As of 2017, depending upon the sources, the fuel mix is divided into two categories, i.e., carbon-based and carbon-free, in which 65% of the current fuel mix is carbon-based, while 35% is carbon-free. Renewable energy has a share of only 3%. Natural gas has a share of 41% in the fuel mix and 10,332 MW capacity and oil has a share of 24% with 6137 MW capacity; these are the carbon-based fuels. Hydro energy has a share of 28% in the fuel mix and 7116 MW capacity, nuclear has a share of 3% with 787 MW capacity, and renewables have a share of 3% with 852 MW capacity; these are the carbon-free fuels. The vision by 2025 is to decrease the percentage of carbon-based fuels to 62%, so that the usage of clean energy sources may rise to 38% such that hydro, nuclear and renewable energy sources will have 27%, 7%, and 5% shares in the fuel mix and 13,142 MW, 3667 MW, and 2339 MW capacities, respectively [8
Wind energy serves as a renewable clean energy source with a vast capacity of 346 gigawatts (GW). Pakistan has 120 GW viable, particularly in the coastal lines of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, the velocity of wind being 4–9 ms−1
and 12.5 ms−1
at 10 m and 50 m height, respectively [15
Pakistan has 300 sun shining days because of its geolocation, creating a mean temperature per annum of 26–28 °C and 1900–2200 kWh/m3
per annum global radiation, providing a solar potential of 2,900,000 MW. In total, 18 photovoltaic systems with 440 kW installed capacity are running in Pakistan. The solar energy share of the country is rising continuously. Yet, in order to decrease the power cut duration, incredible measures are still required. In northern areas, Pakistan can also use its geothermal resources, but unfortunately, no effort has been done to utilize them, due to a lack of investment and manpower [19
Biomass can serve as another versatile renewable energy resource to bridge the energy supply and demand gap of the world in various energy applications such as electricity, transport, and buildings [20
]. It has a 14% share in the total 18% of the world’s renewable energy share. Raw material for biomass can be obtained from agricultural and forest leavings, industrial and municipal leftovers, and waste materials. Pakistan, as an agricultural country, holds a great capability to harvest energy from biomass comprising of waste that comes from crops such as wheat, rice, and sugarcane. Established poultry and livestock industries also leave behind excessive poultry and livestock ordure, which being organic in nature, can be processed to retrieve energy. A fresh study of the World Bank states a potential of 4000–6000 MW power generation using biomass. The Punjab government has projected a potential of 1500 MW of power generation through biomass that is used as fuel and 1000 MW of power through solid waste. It has been observed that the waste heat from the cement and chemical industries can be used to generate electricity that can be sold to the grid. Between 200–400 MW of electricity can be produced by waste heat recovery, according to recent estimates by the 2016 state of industry report [21
The 2010–2035 global policies suggest an urgent imposition for bioenergy, excluding traditional biomass, with a required 3.3% annual increase i.e., 526 MTOE (2010) to 1200 MTOE (2035). However, by 2035, bioenergy will hold a greater share in the power sector, as mentioned in Figure 4
]. Biomass is an exclusive form of source of green and clean energy; it is also abundantly instituted in nature and can be produced easily both in urban and rural environs [23
]. Biomass resources are segmented in three classes, as shown in Table 2
The advantage of obtaining energy from biomass resources is that the output is closed to the installed capacity, unlike other renewable resources [27
], which can be witnessed in Figure 5
. Furthermore, the production of thermal energy using biomass has less effects on the environment. Thus, energy harnessed from biomass resources is popular development in Pakistan as compared to other systems of renewable energies [28
]. In early days, different biomass such as leaves, wood, and excrement have been used as energy resource in daily life. Despite the overriding of biomass by fossil fuels in both urban and rural regions since the industrial revolution, biomass is slowly becoming reaccepted as an energy supply at the industrial scale [29
Research and development is being carried out for various technologies of producing biomass energy [30
]. Electricity generation based on gasification technology has been practiced for more than a century. Anaerobic digestion and the combustion of biomass are developed and established technologies compared to gasification. In study [31
], Bhattacharya demonstrate a biomass energy to co-firing with coal energy [32
], and it is well developed in agro-industries. Additionally, biodiesel and bioethanol-based energy production are a few of the most striking biomass energy technologies in the current era [34
This paper briefs the necessity of upgrading Pakistan’s power sector by using the renewable resources. Some of the previous research studies in this domain only targeted one specific resource or two, while other research studies have targeted all of the resources. However, their analyses do not provide an insight as to which resource can quickly lessen the gap between energy demand and supply in the current situation in Pakistan. The first step toward the successful implementation of a renewable energy resource at a large scale is to study the various perspectives of all the available resources, and then opt for the most optimal and feasible one by properly analyzing all of the aspects of each resource. A comprehensive analysis has been done in this paper on the state, demand predictions, and existing sources of power generation in Pakistan using conventional, alternate, and renewable energy resources, along with global scenarios to comprehend where Pakistan stands in the world in terms of power and energy. This approach can help the government make decisions about the prioritization and utilization of resources, which will enable investors to wisely invest in high-priority resources based on facts and the potential advantages and disadvantages of individual resources. This study shows that the geolocation of Pakistan makes the place ideal for the implementation of any kind of alternate or renewable energy systems based on hydropower, thermal power, nuclear power, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass power plants. It also discusses the biomass resources such as bagasse, municipal waste, and poultry waste to harvest biomass energy for power generation, transportation, and industrial fuel. Keeping in view the availability, sustainability, and lowest environmental impact of biomass energy, this paper concludes that the energy policies of Pakistan are in dire need of revision in order to bridge the demand and supply gap by bringing up projects based on renewable energies, especially biomass-based energy projects that hold enormous energy and fuel potential.
This paper has been structured in four main sections. Section 2
and Section 3
critically review the existing demand and future sources of power generation predictions based on different power plants in Pakistan. The existing and future scenarios of biomass applications in electricity generation, transportation, and its use as an industrial fuel are the focus of Section 4
. The discussion and recommendations have been presented in Section 5
, in comparison to the existing energy situation of Pakistan. Finally, a conclusion is presented in Section 6
. A graphical representation of the research methodology is also presented in Figure 6
5. Discussion and Recommendations
The current scenario regarding the power deficit in Pakistan calls for some immediate steps to overcome this shortfall. The major and foremost problems that have been continuously hindering Pakistan’s power sector growth have been listed in Table 22
. Their probable and prime reasons, along with their direct consequences, have also been summarized as follows. The problem of the underutilization of the power plants’ capacities is caused by their poor maintenance and the deliberate, reluctant behavior of the authorities in full capacity operation. Strict regulatory policies should be devised so that the power plants are compelled to be properly maintained and produce electricity to their full capacity. Pakistan does not have an adequate number of power plants, and the existing ones are less efficient than they should be. Consequently, the undersupply of electricity occurs, and to overcome this problem, investments in efficient-energy projects should be made. The financial problem persists in the energy sector. Hence, wise decisions should be incorporated in those resources that will benefit the energy sector. The new projects face large procedural delays, increasing the overall budget of the project and again causing financial instability. Thus, such delays should be eliminated completely by strict policies that are not affected by any political situation. Technical difficulty handling in power plants should be strengthened to avoid huge blackouts and equipment failure through the establishment of institutions that train the work force. High auxiliary power is used, which causes high heat rates and loss of energy. Hence, cogeneration based on renewable energies should also be implemented by exploring new resources. Pakistan suffers from an exploration problem due to a lack of awareness in the society about the potential of renewable energy resources. Also, research and development should be encouraged and done at larger scales to facilitate exploration by government funding. The quality of the power produced by power plants is not up to the mark due to inefficient transmission and distribution networks that have incorporated poor circuit designs and inefficient circuit components. Theft and leakages also play a role in the degradation of the quality of power in the grid, which ultimately leads to low-voltage issues. The low-frequency noise from such a setup also causes health issues. Smart grid systems should be deployed to track down the energy utilization, which will help eliminate power theft. The International Electrotechnical Commission rules—and other rules—must be followed in order to ensure power quality [150
]. At the end of this study, suggestions have been given that can help overcome those issues.
Although the major energy contribution to date comes from conventional sources (i.e., 65% from thermal [49
]) in Pakistan, the risk involved with these sources is compelling us to shift the energy paradigm toward renewable sources. The first and foremost step on this road is to develop plans and policies so that the utilization of renewable energy can be enhanced. Integrated energy policies should be formulated to find new ventures in the renewable regime and improve the capacity of existing plants, whose chief features should be as follows:
1. National Security of Energy
This feature has been elaborated in Table 23
, which covers the potential expansion of the use of coal found in the Thar Desert, the exploitation of shale gas and oil, the exploitation of solar, wind, and biomass potential, and the encouragement of hydropower projects based on storage. It shows its importance for Pakistan in becoming self-sufficient regarding energy and minimizing problems regarding payment balancing.
2. Deep Rooted Sustainability of Environment
The share of the power sector in global emissions is 25%, while a 75% overall share comes from the agriculture, transportation, residential, commercial and industrial sectors. For deep-rooted environmental sustainability, the following measures should be taken:
All of the sectors of Pakistan should strive to be on par with the international environmental standards.
To guarantee the complete surveillance of all of the emission sources, the structure of regulations for environmental compliance needs to be revised.
International Finance Corporation IFC standards for emissions and National Environment Quality Standards NEQS need to be employed in upcoming coal-based projects to control the impact on the environment by using standard technological interferences. Fortunately, it has been predicted that Pakistan will have a far lower level of emissions as compared to many other countries.
3. Conservation and Efficiency of Energy
Constant education and awareness are required to transform the outlook of the local populace regarding energy conservation. Energy-efficiency programs should be started, and grants need to be provided to establish a system that has efficient vehicles and efficient lighting. The buildings should implement mandatory disclosure codes/regulations and commercialized benchmark laws. Table 24
lists the areas where efficient energy and conservation measures can be taken. The energy-efficiency practices include efficient vehicles i.e., hybrid/electric vehicles, efficient lighting, and efficient building codes [152
]. The efficient vehicles convert 25–40% of gasoline into energy, while conventional vehicles just convert 17–21% of the fuel into energy, which increases fuel efficiency. Hybrid vehicles do not emit harmful gases, so these should be paid attention to for implementation at a large scale economically. Efficient lighting using Light Emitting Diode LED bulbs give 50–80% more efficiency than alternate bulbs. Efficient building codes can reduce energy footprints while at the same time benefiting the owners and residents economically.
4. Competitive Tariff Establishment
It has been predicted that the upcoming mix of fuel will help lower the fuel cost part of the power tariff. The focus should be to minimize transmission and distribution losses by replacing and/or upgrading the technology that is required for this purpose.
The GoP has planned to develop 5% of its total energy from the renewable sources by 2030 [9
]. For that, the GoP introduced organizations and institutions that pursue the research and development of alternate and renewable energy resources. The Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), Center for Energy Research and Development (CERAD), and Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) are the three main organizations aiming to achieve country’s energy mix with a greater share of renewable energy sources. In addition, the major universities of Pakistan are also participating and playing their part in research regarding the renewable energy potential in Pakistan. Table 25
summarizes the research being carried out in the different universities of Pakistan. Regardless of the efforts, there are certain barriers to the implementation of renewable energy systems in abundance that still need to be overcome. They are as follows:
While hydropower is contributing almost 31% of the country’s total power production [49
], other renewable sources currently have negligible involvement. It has been found that hydropower bears a great capability to help lift the energy supply up to the demand. Pakistan has the capacity for large, small, and mini/micro hydropower projects. Each category has its own advantages and disadvantages, which have been summarized in Table 26
. A summary of Table 26
is as follows. Large-scale hydropower projects remain an unfeasible solution in a larger number for Pakistan’s current situation, since it is costly in and of itself, even though it supplies many purposes such as irrigation, energy generation, recreation, control of flood, navigation, fishing and supply of water to the population. However, in most cases, its construction costs much more than that because of population displacements and other compensations. Small-scale hydropower projects that are often carried out in hilly areas are harder to scale, and are consequently higher in costs. Above all, their expansion to the national grid is greatly difficult, being susceptible to losses. Hence, the mountain specifications and feasibility analysis should be performed with great care. Mini/micro hydropower projects have an advantage in that they don’t require expansion to the grid, and they come under the decentralized power system category. In this case, the costs can be reduced by using efficient components that are often locally available. They are also best suited for poor and rural areas, which leads to the conclusion that small hydropower projects, being the most feasible, should be started at various locations all over Pakistan with suitable terrain. The GoP has permitted a 17% internal rate of return to inspire the installment of hydel-based projects.
Pakistan is blessed with various landforms such as plains, plateaus, mountains, and coastal areas. Coastal areas act as a hub for wind energy. According to international standards, wind sources in Jamshoro are befitting for power generation due to their high speed [1
]. Thus, more wind turbines should be installed there in order to achieve higher wind generation potential, because Pakistan has 132 GW of wind power potential, but is only utilizing only 1% of it. Due to firming up the infrastructure of institutions, three wind farms have been established that are interconnected with the national grid. They add over 150 MW to the national grid, and further wind projects are near the completion stages. For a quick implementation of wind-based projects, the following recommendations should be considered:
Maintenance and improvement in the strength of the infrastructure of institutions, as per the increase in the demand of energy, should be ensured.
There should be a fast processing of project proposals, eliminating procedural delays that ultimately cause cost overruns.
The usage of latest technologies, and by reducing tariffs, wind power generation can be more rewarding. However, the key challenges of frequency mismatch and lack of grid connectivity must be addressed on a higher priority.
International and private investors should be made aware of and educated regarding the striking renewable energy policy put forward in 2011, which holds great incentives for wind power project investors.
The wind power plants need to operate on a commercial level that can result in a wind power contribution of 2.6 GW, and thus, the goal of the GoP of attaining a 5% share of renewable energy can be met by 2030.
At present, power generation from solar energy is continuously growing in Pakistan. Although Pakistan has an estimated potential of 2.9 Million MW, only 1% is currently being utilized. Government of Pakistan can help encourage solar-based projects. Recommendations are as follows [9
Provision of subsidies on PV cells should be ensured.
Solar cells can be made more feasible by locally producing them, which will eventually reduce the cost of electricity.
Awareness should be spread among local communities, and proper technical information should be available to guide them.
Peak demand of load can be managed by shifting toward PV-based solar cells. Street lights and parks can be illuminated by them to shed the load off the grid.
Since a large area is needed to install PV cells for solar farms, these can be aptly installed in remote areas of Baluchistan, Sindh, and Punjab to fulfil the energy requirements of the local communities. The mountainous regions of the country can be exploited as well, since they get a lot of solar radiation for long hours on a daily basis.
Geothermal resources are in abundance in Pakistan, but due to a lack of proper policies and the required database, they have never been capitalized on a large scale. Consistent and thorough research and development (R&D) is required to clear pathways for utilizing geothermal potential. It has been observed that since Pakistan is situated on tectonic plate junctions, they can offer high, medium, and low temperature reservoirs for electricity generation. Pakistan has no geothermal power plant yet, so this domain is a blue ocean for Pakistan that thoroughly needs to be brought to the fore.
Biomass-based energy is resourceful, sustainable, cost-effective, socially acceptable, and environment friendly alternative for power production [22
]. Being a new field, it is in the early stages of development, and more research is required to get the most out of it. Three major sources for biomass in Pakistan are bagasse, poultry waste, and municipal waste. It has been proven that biogas-based plants have less of an environmental impact than PV and wind technologies. Table 27
summarizes the analysis of biomass potential in this study. The summary of Table 27
is given as follows. Bagasse can produce over 3000 MW of power by cogeneration techniques. The use of biomass sources for cogeneration is encouraged because of biomass degradation to environmentally harmful methane gas. Poultry waste, if processed and utilized for producing biogas, can generate 300 MWh of energy per day. Similarly, municipal solid waste is also left over in large quantities of 32.3 MT per year. The associated processing technologies and awareness needs to be raised in all three resources. This potential can be utilized for power production and as a fuel source in industries and transport vehicles, as summarized in Table 28
. The summary of Table 28
is given as follows. Up until 2014, Pakistan did not have any biomass-based power generation capability. Afterwards, the potential for biomass-based power plants was explored, and during 2015–2016, 547 GWh of energy was harvested from such schemes. The capabilities that biomass holds in this regard have started to be acknowledged in Pakistan. Consequently, more such projects are being launched for power generation. Biomass-based fuel for transportation and industrial fuel has been known to be more efficient and beneficial for the vehicle performance and the environment as well. Pakistan needs to follow other countries such as Sweden that consume biomass-based fuel in their vehicles, so that Pakistan’s expense on importing fuel gets lowered. Although some small biomass-based projects are running in the country, they are still not capable of producing any big impact. One basic hurdle in adopting biomass-based energy sources is a lack of financial and technological support [132
], which can be easily overcome with the help of public–private partnership.
This study would have been further enhanced if the data related to bagasse, poultry waste, and municipal solid waste could be obtained from the major cities of Pakistan by direct survey from related organizations by arranging a field trip. Still, the data has been obtained from recent reliable sources, which suffice to fulfil the objectives of this study.
This study enables examining the state of power and energy harnessed from all of the available and potential resources in Pakistan. Keeping in view all of the aspects mentioned in this section, it can be deduced because of this study that biomass is the most economical and readily available resource that can be used to harness energy to generate power and as transportation and industrial fuel. Other renewable resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal resources are too expensive to set up at a large scale for Pakistan’s current economic situation, even though they have a lot of potential. They also require more complex technologies and large manpower for their setup, which in the case of biomass, is relatively less of a problem. Hence, this comprehensive study may enable the government and investors to make wise decisions about the most suitable resource that, if implemented in upcoming and future projects, will help reduce the supply and demand gap in a minimal time span. Hence, they may set priorities on the utilization of these resources based on this study for their future investments. In this study, biomass has been found to be that resource which is environmentally, sustainably, and economically the most feasible in solving the power and energy issues, and should be set up as the highest priority for its utilization in all possible aspects.