Pakistan faces an unexpected dilemma: too much electricity

(Reuters, 24 Feb 2021) After decades of painful shortages, a push to generate more power - particularly from coal-fired plants - has left Pakistan with excess capacity, and higher costs.

After suffering decades of electricity shortages that left families and businesses in the dark, Pakistan finds itself with a new problem: more electrical generating capacity than it needs.

Large-scale construction of new power plants - largely coal-fired ones funded by China - has dramatically boosted the country's energy capacity.

"It's true. We are producing much more than we need," Tabish Gauhar, a special assistant to the prime minister on power, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

But even as supply surges, electric power is still not reaching up to 50 million people in Pakistan who need it, according to a 2018 World Bank report, though expansion of tranmission lines is planned.

Power outages also remain common, with a transmission problem just last month leaving many of the country's major cities in the dark.

Excess fossil fuel energy capacity also is boosting electricity costs - and raising questions about whether the country will now manage to achieve its climate change goals, with scientists saying coal needs to rapidly disappear from the world's energy mix to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

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Reuters, 24 Feb 2021: Pakistan faces an unexpected dilemma: too much electricity