Pakistan Agriculture News

Dense smog leads to closure of nuclear power plants

ISLAMABAD: The continuing dense smog, which emerged with the onset of dry weather, burning of stubble in neighbouring India and emission of smoke from iron and steel re-rolling factories in Punjab, forced authorities on Friday to close nuclear power plants of 1,200-megawatt capacity and several grid stations tripped, causing power breakdown in several parts of the country.

In the wake of the crisis, the Power Division directed the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) to chalk out an emergency demand and supply management plan for 72 hours by the time the nuclear power plants were restored.

A separate long-term management plan will also be prepared by the NPCC. However, since the demand is coming down with the fall in temperature levels, the situation is expected to show improvement soon.

The Power Division emphasised that the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) averted a major breakdown following tripping of 11 main 500-kilovolt and 220kv circuits/grid stations. This was caused by the unprecedented dense smog in Punjab regions, which could have led to blackouts in the absence of system protection, it said.

Restoration work was in progress at four Chashma nuclear power plants – C1, C2, C3 and C4 – and they are expected to run at full capacity in the next 72 hours.

In a statement, the Power Division said under the directives of the federal government, all expensive furnace oil and diesel-run power plants having cumulative capacity of 4,250MW had also been shut.

Furnace oil plants included 950MW Hubco plant, 1,000MW Muzaffargarh plant, 400MW Jamshoro plant and 700MW Kapco plant. The diesel/furnace oil-fired plants that had been shut were Nishat Power, Nishat Chunian Power, Liberty Power, Hubco Narowal, Atlas Power and Kohinoor Energy with cumulative capacity of around 1,200MW.

Hydroelectric power generation has also come down to an average of 2,700MW against the capacity of 7,000MW because of less release of water from reservoirs on the demand of provinces.

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines has curtailed gas supply to power plants by 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) to clear the way for maintenance work between November 3 and 7, bringing power production down by 500MW.

All these factors are negatively impacting the demand and supply of electricity, therefore, the distribution system needs load management for a certain period.

Distribution companies have also been directed to ensure maximum relief to power consumers besides keeping allocated quotas to ensure system stability. They have been further told to circulate the load management plan within their areas of operation for awareness of the consumers.

The Power Division said the dense smog was posing a serious challenge to the national transmission system and NPCC, NTDC and distribution companies were closely monitoring the situation.

Special teams have been deputed by NTDC and the distribution companies to meet any emergency situation due to the changing weather condition. Monitoring of all high transmission lines has also been stepped up.

The Power Division regretted the inconvenience likely to be caused due to the above facts and asked the consumers to resort to energy conservation over the next few days in order to minimise the load on the power transmission and distribution system.

It said it was closely monitoring the situation and would continue to pass on information to the consumers.

Source Express Tribune