Special Coverage
4:56 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Boosting Energy Production in Pakistan

KUT News director Emily Donahue is traveling through Pakistan with nine other reporters on a trip organized by the International Center for Journalists.

We met with officials at the Pakistan Planning Commission early today. It is the site of Pakistan’s first on-site solar power installation. It is funded by Japan.   

This installation and another will produce power for the “B” block of government offices, with excess flowing into the grid.  Pakistan has an extremely unreliable energy grid. Rolling power outages are common is Islamabad.

Austinites are no strangers to occasional summer rolling blackouts, mainly implemented when the state’s power demands exceed grid capacity. Pakistanis live with such blackouts at least a few times daily. In the 30 hours I’ve been here there have been at least four, each lasting several minutes.

The locals appear used to them. I was in a meeting today at PTV, Pakistan’s state-run television service, and the power went out. The TVs went off, rooms went dark. Not a single person batted an eye.

The U.S.is also helping this country boost its energy production and capacity. Part of the reason for that may be to build Pakistan’s generation enough to keep it from turning to Iran to fulfill its energy needs.

Last November, Teheran announced it would triple energy exports to Pakistan. The U.S. is encouraging Pakistan to seek alternate supplies, especially since new, tougher sanctions went into effect against Iran for pursuing what is many in the international community believe to be a nuclear weapons program