Gilgit-Baltistan: The Energy Conundrum

Kaleem Khan

The advancement in the field of science and technology has set new horizons, from the humble beginning that evolved through ages has transformed men from a cave to exploring Mars and vying ahead. The innovation in Communication Systems has made men mobile, and the world a global village, on the other hand in the field of Power Systems it has made the people energized. It has boost economical activities worldwide; innovation in the field has marked enormous achievements. Moreover, the Edison’s very first commercial generation of AC Power is now contributing gigantically across the globe. With the increasing gap between demand and supply facing GB, it was inevitable to leave the people at the mercy of handful of ramshackled generating units. In a bid to overcome the overwhelming demand of electricity Satpara Dam Projects was chalked out. SDC—Satpara Dam Consultants, a consultancy firm to the Satpara Dam Project and a subordinate to Pakistan Engineering Services (PES), commenced the project in 2003 taking DESCON in civil works and China Machine-Building International Corporation (CMIC) in Electrical and Mechanical works as a contractor. The project was aimed at catering the Power needs of the city—Skardu—by providing 17MW of electricity.

Kaleem Khan
Kaleem Khan

Satpara Dam Project is the only mega project the area has experienced to date. After the project’s completion earlier in 2014, is still unable to bridge the city’s energy gap as two out of four generators are still not operational—due to administrative ineptitude. The electric power system is a complex, composite and intermingled system. Therefore, the need of coherence and harmony among its components are of prime importance. The established infrastructure and newly built system in the city—Skardu—still remains incoherent. The generating units normally lie at far-off places and are brought in the vicinity of population via transmission lines and distributed at a “Grid Station”. All the generation meets here and is then dispensed to the utility with calculation and control. The beautiful ravines of Gilgit-Baltistan not only attracts tourists by its ravishing beauty but are channeled to generate electricity too. The small on stream—run of the river type—power plants employed in the ravines remain mishandled and goes unharnessed that doesn’t add as par—one of the reason there remains soaring power outages in the city. GB has a repertory of renewable energy sources—Hydel potential being on the top—and inability to fill the widening energy gap is beyond apprehension.

With the advent of winters there escalates the energy needs of the city—Skardu. The subzero ambiance calls for measures to counter its effect and people take stock of possible measures; there lefts no other option but to opt for costly wood for cooking and heating purposes. As temperature aggravates so do the demand of electricity and people resort to electric heaters to keep themselves warm, that worsens further the demand-supply gap. In winters the inflow of water also decreases affecting directly the generation capacity. The dearth of generating units coupled with the increased demand dilapidates the socio-economic landscape of the region. The frequent light outages have plagued the routine life. Gilgit-Baltistan has the capacity to not only overcome its own needs, but also whole of the country’s energy needs. The government’s lack of interest in capitalizing these sources has stalled the potential growth of the region in particular and the country in broader perspective. It is high time that we exploit this resourceful region in terms of Renewable energy sources, embarking the country on the avenues of progress and prosperity. This demands sincerity on the part of people at the helms of affairs and policy makers.

The contributor has studied Electrical Engineering COMSATS University, Abbottabad.

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  1. well written on the power issue in gilgit baltistan.
    it must be solved immediately other wise it will result the complete collapse of power sector

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