Pakistan's Energy Flow Diagram: Solutions to reduce losses

Did you know that Pakistan is losing 82% of the energy it produces and imports due to inefficiencies in every step of the energy flow?

As part of my work for the Integrated Energy Plan (an effort of the Energy Experts Group), I compiled Pakistan's first comprehensive energy flow diagram (as seen below).

Including losses at the consumer level, Pakistan is losing 82% of its energy to inefficiencies. As can be seen in the energy flow diagram, the biggest losses are on the consumer usage side (29.24MMTOE), in power generation (15.06MMTOE), natural gas Transmission and Distribution (T&D) (3.79MMTOE) and electricity T&D (1.69 MMTOE). That means if Pakistan would only concentrate on reducing the inefficiencies in its energy flow, much of the energy crisis would be resolved. For more detailed analysis of the diagram, read this article.

Pakistan Energy Flow Diagram

Note: The Energy Flow Diagram is based on data from the Pakistan Energy Yearbook and NEPRA's State of the Industry Report. Efficiencies on the consumer side are based on global averages given by the Global Energy Assessment.

What steps are necessary for us to reach the global benchmarks? There are many measures the government can take, and others the end users need to take.

1)      All gas turbine power stations should be converted to combined cycle units to raise efficiencies up to 60%. Power stations beyond their operational life should be refurbished to get high efficiencies or retired. A robust and enforced maintenance plan is essential to keep power stations operating at close to design efficiencies, even at the cost of short-term blackouts. Power stations close to industrial areas should be upgraded to combined heat and power (CHP) plants to get efficiencies up to 90%.

By improving power generation efficiency from the current 34.1% to 55%, we could save 4.78MMTOE per year or $1.78 billion every year of oil imports at $50/barrel. Or alternately, we could generate 58693GWh more of electricity annually (~6.7GW capacity) using the same amount of fuel, producing $5.87 billion yearly revenues at $0.1/kWh. The true savings will increase every year, as power capacity increases.

2)      By reducing natural gas T&D losses to global benchmarks of 4%, we could save 2.55MMTOE (growing every year with natural gas consumption). Natural gas thefts and leaks must be stopped. Also, the practice of gas fields distributing free gas to employees and neighbouring villages must be halted. Access to free gas has led to gross misuse as there are stories rampant of individuals selling their free gas onwards to other consumers. Alternately, these consumers can be provided direct subsidies or stipends to cover their utility bills instead.

3)   Reducing electricity T&D losses down to global benchmarks of 7% will mean that 1.14 MMTOE will be saved, meaning $1.4 billion per year more in revenues for utility companies, assuming electricity tariffs of $0.1/kWh.

On the consumer demand side, the government's biggest role should be in spreading information. Energy efficiency methods will save domestic, industrial and commercial consumers significant money on their electricity, petrol and gas bills. So there is no need to subsidize energy efficient appliance or machinery purchases. There is potential to save 5.8MMTOE in industry, 5.1MMTOE in transport, and 5MMTOE in the domestic sector, a total over 16MMTOE when also taking commercial, government and agriculture consumption into account. That is a saving of $5.96 billion in oil and natural gas imports annually for Pakistan, and nearly $10 billion savings for the consumer per year in gas, oil and electricity bills.

The government should spread information through the following methods:

A. Energy efficiency awareness campaigns through seminars, TV, print advertising, etc. to teach consumers to save energy through lifecycle cost analysis to purchase the right appliances and vehicles and changes in energy consumption behaviour.

B. School and college syllabus should integrate energy efficiency awareness to train the next generation to make sustainable energy, water and materials choices.

C.The government should introduce an energy rating labels scheme for all appliances, vehicles and machinery. Consumers equipped with energy consumption information when purchasing appliances and cars will make smarter choices. This will also encourage local appliance manufacturers to improve their appliance technologies and become competitive not only in pricing but also quality.

In addition, the government should also take the following steps:

1.      They should open negotiations with global companies producing energy efficient appliances to get better pricing. Many companies have unofficially introduced  appliances in Pakistan without proper market study. Their pricing is too high for consumers to get full return on their investment through energy savings. By improving their pricing they can get better market penetration and Pakistan can reduce the energy crisis.

2.       Information should be collected on the energy intensity of all industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors so that they can be compared to global benchmarks and their energy efficiency performance improved.

3.       Currently the main users of public transport in Pakistan are those who cannot afford a private vehicle. Not many Pakistanis willingly use public transport over purchasing or using their private vehicle. Hence, the existing public transport has negligible impact on curbing the number of vehicles on Pakistani roads. To truly curb demand for private vehicles and the associated need for oil imports, the government needs to promote the development of clean, comfortable and affordable public transport that the middle and upper middle class will willingly use.

On the demand side, here are some steps that all consumers can take to reduce their bills without impacting their comfort in any way:

Lighting: Stop using incandescent bulbs and upgrade immediately to energy saving bulbs like CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), T5 tube-lights (also known as LFL or linear fluorescent lamp) or LED bulbs, which give you the same amount of light using much less electricity. Domestic consumers living in a 3 bedroom house will save over Rs.75,000 per year. For a SME of 40 employees, you can save Rs.260,000/year.  Think of lighting in Lumens rather than Watts. Buy lighting options with high efficacy (Lumens/Watt over 70) to get the best savings. For more information, check out

Payback Period:  a few months

AC sizing: The first step consumers can take is use or switch to ACs properly sized for their rooms. Pakistani consumers tend to buy oversized ACs, usually due to misinformation from the salesman. 20BTU/ft2 of living space (assuming a ceiling height of 8ft) is ample for any room. Energystar buildings use less than 12BTU/ft2. For a more detailed calculator, check out

By this switch, consumers can save over Rs.23,000/year per AC, assuming you use the AC for 8 hours per day and 7 months of the year.

Payback Period: 0 days (you save money from the first day by buying a smaller AC)

Energy Efficient ACs: Now that you have sized your AC correctly, make sure you purchase an energy efficient AC. Buy ACs with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (Cooling Power/Input Power) above 4. If you use an AC for just a few hours a day, paying slightly more for an energy efficient AC (using <0.8kW/ton) will save you over Rs.14,000/year per ton AC. For more information, check out

Payback Period: 2 years based on usage

 However, if using an AC over 10 hours/day, it may be worthwhile to pay the premium for inverter ACs (at least those using <0.5kW/ton). Inverter ACs are currently priced too high in the market to be worth the extra investment for those using an AC for only a few hours a day.

Warning: energy efficient has become a marketing word for many brands that use the label even on very inefficient appliances. Always research the numbers yourself before buying anything.

Appliances: Many appliance companies spend millions on R&D to produce more energy efficient appliances. For example, energy efficient refrigerators manufactured today consume 75% less electricity than brand new energy efficient refrigerators used to do 15 years ago (see Figure 2). Similarly new energy efficient washing machines use 63% less electricity and 31% less water than 15 years ago.

This means the 20 year old fridge you are using to save money is actually losing you over Rs.20,000 in extra electricity bills every year. Upgrade to a  brand new energy-efficient fridge today!

Payback period: 2 years

Then again, all appliances brands and models are not created equal. There are companies who spend money on more marketing rather than R&D to build a better product. Buying a brand new energy-efficient fridge instead of a new generic refrigerator will save you Rs.15,000-20,000 annually. For more information, see

Payback period: 1-2 years

Laptops vs desktops: Did you know that a generic laptop consumes 20-50W of power, while a desktop uses 150-400W? Using your computer 10 hours/day, you can save Rs.11,000/year in electricity bills by switching to a laptop. For an SME of 40 employees, using 30 computers, and working 9-5, that is a savings of Rs.220,000 annually.

Payback period: Less than 1 year

Smaller cars: How often do you pick up passengers from the airport? Do you really need a large car with a large trunk for picking up guests twice a year or less? Do you really want to waste thousands of rupees in extra fuel costs every month just to be prepared for the airport-pickup contingency? Small cars can give you as much as 25km/litre, whereas other gas-guzzlers give just 7km/litre. Buy a smaller, energy-efficient car and save money on the price of the car and fuel costs every month.

Payback: Immediate.

For even more information on how you can reduce your electricity bills, check out

For industry:

Waste heat recovery: Factory owners should use waste heat generated from their processes to  pre-heat earlier processes, and make their factory more efficient. Any leftover waste heat can be used to generate electricity and reduce dependence on the national grid.

Payback Period: 1-5 years (based on temperature of waste gas, and equipment used)

By following existing best practices around the world, Pakistan can significantly reduce the energy losses down to 50-55%, and hence put an end to the energy crisis and reduce the import of energy.