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Sunday, November 12, 2017

How Sugar industry can help ease Pakistan's energy crisis




Taking too much sugar may be bad for your health, but not for your country. Sugar industry can help ease the energy crisis faced by Pakistan for more than a decade.

The energy shortage is growing with ever increasing population and rising domestic consumption.  The production gap can be met by mobilizing sugar mills to produce electricity. The bagasse produced by sugar mills can be used to produce thermal energy for onsite use as well as production of electricity.

In many countries of the world sugar mills are earning more from selling electricity than they earn from selling sugar. Sugar industry is second largest, with 89 mills; agro based industry of Pakistan after textile and therefore offers tremendous potential to fill the energy gap.

A sugar mill crushing 2000 tons cane can produce 9 MW of electricity after meeting its own requirement. The total estimated power potential of Pakistan’s sugar industry is 2000MW. The cost of producing electricity is very low as the fuel (bagasse) is available at no cost. The raw material need not to be transported so considerable savings can be made on transportation head. Transportation losses can also be reduced as bagasse power plants are decentralized. Moreover, there is zero carbon dioxide emission as bagasse is a biomass. During combustion biomass re-releases carbon dioxide into the air.

Most of the sugar mills in Pakistan use bagasse to heat inefficient boilers of 26bar. The Indian sugar industry is using 50bar boilers, which uses half as much bagasse as used by 26bar boiler to produce the same megawatts of energy.

The high pressure boiler (80-100bar) available in Pakistan cost from 700 million rupees to 1 billion rupees. The high investment involves make it unfeasible for using these boilers only for 120 days, the cane crushing season. For the rest part of the year sugar industry wants to utilize coal and other biomass fuels like rice bran, corn cobs.

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