With Pakistan textile industry facing energy crisis to overcome to this power issue, entrepreneurs in Punjab have step up efforts for alternative power solutions by going solar, this will lower the average cost of power that has turned the textile sector unviable.
Punjab’s industrialists are convinced that they will remain at the receiving end as far as power supplies are concerned, said M I Khurram, a spinner managing two spinning units. He said that political compulsions continue to compel the government to ensure maximum supplies to the domestic consumers at the expense of the manufacturing sector.
S M Tanveer, the chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association said that the association has studied alternatives available to the current mode of production of power in the province.. State-owned power distribution companies supply power for only 12 hours, while in Punjab gas supplies are restricted to eight hours a day. The industrialists have to generate power from furnace oil or diesel in the remaining four hours. The average cost of this energy mix ranges from Rs13.50-14.50 per unit. There are about 58 spinning mills in Punjab who are denied gas connections, and for them the cost is much higher because they have to generate power from diesel.
After the increase of 67 percent in power tariff last year even state-supplied power is unviable, said Ahmad Hassan, another spinner.
He is able to operate his mills for only 6-8 hours, depending upon the supply of gas to the mills due to which he has been forced to retrench two-thirds of his workforce for the survival of his unit. Since he has serviced his project loan, he can afford to close two shifts.
Tanveer said that two hotly discussed alternative energy solutions being discussed are solar energy and furnace-oil generators.
Producing power from the most efficient diesel engines is four times more expensive than gas and the cost of electricity produced from furnace oil is 30 percent cheaper than diesel. Many spinners have been importing second-hand generators running on furnace oil because new machines are very expensive. The used machines are less efficient, but the cost of power production, at Rs18 per unit, is 25 percent cheaper than power produced from diesel.
The solar power is a far more viable alternative for manufacturers as the average consumption of a spinning mill is 3 MW. The solar energy will be available for about six hours a day. This will cost Rs300 million and the cost of the solar project can be realised in three years. After that the power production of six hours a day will be free, according to him.
The use of solar power, together with six to eight hours of gas supply will reduce the burden of power cost for industrialists. The industries will become commercially unviable if alternative solutions are not adopted at the soonest to overcome the energy crisis faced by the textile industries.
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