Tidal energy the way forward, says expert

December 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Secrets of the Ocean


The creek network near Karachi has the potential to generate 8,000 megawatts (MW) of tidal energy at very cheap rates, which would be enough to end the severe power crisis the city of 18 million is facing, Dr Naseem A Khan, vice chancellor Hamdard University and former secretary Alternate Energy Board, told The News on Friday.

The Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) has an installed capacity of 1,700 MW and faces a shortfall of 500 MW, which it takes from the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), according to the vice chancellor.

The tidal energy generated from the creek network could become the base load and would be available for eight hours a day, he said.

Dr Khan, who has a PhD in engineering and is also an author, suggested that initially one should focus on data collection and involve local universities in that process. He said the second step must be the acquisition of the required technology, following which a feasibility report should be made.

Dr Khan believed that the project should be run by a public-private partnership. He said the project would cost $150 million and take time to become a reality, but it once does the people of Karachi would finally get rid of loadshedding.

Dr Khan said when he was secretary he made an elaborate proposal to the Alternate Energy Board. However, the government was reluctant to invest in the project despite the fact that a Turkish firm, Zorlu, was taking a keen interest in it.

He agreed that the oil lobby was so well entrenched in Pakistan that proposals for alternate energy were ignored. We have great potential for alternate energy and we also have enough human resources, but we lack initiative.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) some 23 years ago suggested that the complex creeks network in the Indus Deltaic region, extending over an area of 170 kilometres along the 990-km coastline that Pakistan shares with the Arabian Sea, could generate 900 MW of affordable energy, which would be adequate to meet the power requirements of Karachi.

A team of scientists, led by Dr GS Quraishee, a former director general of NIO, conducted the two-year study but it was ignored by the countrys bureaucracy, apparently because the latter allegedly had a vested interest in producing energy through oil imports and enjoying huge kickbacks.

Tapping renewable energy from the ocean was becoming increasingly important, and one reason was that ocean energies were renewable and could not deplete, the study said. The other reason was that, unlike solar or wind power, which manifests itself in kilowatts, ocean energies were being debated and planned, in some cases even executed, in terms of megawatts. A third factor in its favour was the environment.

According to the NIO study entitled Feasibility studies for the extraction of energy from current and haliohydro gravity along Pakistan coast, water flows with high velocity during floods and ebb tides, which was a very favourable requirement for the extraction of energy from the currents. The bays and lagoons along Makran coast west of Karachi have narrow entrances and enclose large sea areas. The salinities in these semi-enclosed areas were higher than the open sea due to the high rate of evaporation. If the narrow entrances of these bays and lagoons were closed artificially, the evaporation will create hydraulic head with higher elevation of water level on the seaside. This head can be utilised for obtaining power. The power resources of the creeks system were great assets for future energy supply in the region. The serious power shortage which the industry was facing at Karachi can be adequately met from these resources, the study said.

Investigations carried out in all the main creeks of Indus Delta, namely Korangi Creek, Phitti Creek, Chan Waddo Creek, Khuddi Creek, Khai Creek, Paitiani Creek, Dabbo Creek, Bhuri Creek, Hajamaro Creek, Khobar Creek, Qalandri Creek, Kahr Creek, Bachiar Creek, Wari Creek and Kajhar Creek showed that, about 900MW can be produced.

In the emerging scenario when developed countries were vying to tap into environment-friendly options of tidal energy, one wonders why it was not was never considered as an option in Pakistan.


Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!