CHITRAL: A debate has been stirred up in Chitral whether we should have LNG gas plants or use electricity to mitigate our energy problems. Following are some points of comparison between the two options.
Feasibility: Feasibility is the first thing to consider before launching any project. A gas storage plant installation may be easy at the outset but keeping the gas store filled with gas maybe not be so, àla “It is easy to open a shop but difficult to keep it open”-Chinese proverb. The LNG gas has to be imported from Qatar or else where and is a recurring heavy expenditure which itself puts a question mark on it’s sustainability. On the other hand electricity is an indigenous produce and e.g with little effort the power house in Chitral town can be upgraded to 7 Mw which can provide far more energy to Chitral town than the LNG plant working at it’s peak (which is doubtful it ever will).
Transmission lines: It will cost billions of rupees to lay the transmission lines from the LNG storage tank to individual houses let alone the plant and the gas. As we can daily see the quality of water pipe lines (leaking after every few feet) will the gas flow be able to stand such faulty lines. The engineers and the contractors are the same whether it is water or gas or electricity. Gas leakage anywhere in the pipeline will reduce the pressure and even deplete the storage within no time. Who will rectify the faults and service individual homes? Is it being done for water pipe leaks?. If the answer is ‘no’, then what can we expect with the gas lines.
Cost effectiveness: Setting up gas storage plants and laying pipelines and topping up the tanks will cost multiple times more than even setting up a new hydel power station, let alone upgrading the existing ones. On the other hand, there will be no cost incurred on laying out electricity transmission lines as they already exist.
Time factor for implementation: The laying of gas pipelines up to individual houses would take years and in all likelihood would be abandoned midway (lack of funds.. Look at Lowari tunnel roads). Electricity model on the other hand already has transmission lines in place, saving millions in price and time.
Practicality and future prospects: The gas plants will for sure be abandoned sooner than later and there will no place to throw them away (Diesel generators of Begum Bhutto are a glaring example). Electric power houses are there to stay and at best would need upgradation from time to time.
Should we act like the ‘wise men of Gotham’ and ‘carry coal to Newcastle’, or should we struggle to use our indigenous and abundant wealth of free energy which is practical, feasible and economical. Is getting feasible energy our aim or burning gas at all costs, our obsession? .. CN report, 05 Mar 2021