Overcoming Energy Poverty: Navigating the Challenges of Load Shedding in Asia

New Delhi landscape by miteman from Getty Images Signature
Electrifying inequalities : from Pakistan’s recurring blackouts  to Sri Lanka’s load shedding issues, unreliable energy supply is holding back the development in South Asia countries and regions.
Energy crises have emerged as a formidable challenge globally, with load shedding becoming a distressing reality in several major countries. This examination delves into the predicaments faced by nations like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, shedding light on how businesses can navigate these disruptions with innovative solutions from Elum.


India’s Escalating Power Woes

In 2022, Rajasthan faced the daunting task of implementing load shedding for both industrial and residential sectors, marking one of India’s most severe power crises in recent memory. Regions across the country endured rolling blackouts extending up to 10 hours daily, with remote areas experiencing power outages for even longer. A critical fuel shortage led to the cessation of operations at three power plants in Punjab. With Reuters forecasting continued widespread blackouts, the situation remains grim.

Pakistan’s Persistent Energy Shortfall

Pakistan’s struggle with its electricity crisis sees no end, with both urban and rural locales suffering from extended power outages. Cities like Karachi and Lahore face up to 15 and nearly 12 hours of blackout, respectively. Despite government efforts to conserve energy, relief from the prolonged darkness seems elusive. The nation’s reliance on imported fuel for its power plants leaves it exposed to global supply fluctuations, further exacerbated by a post-pandemic surge in demand and skyrocketing fuel prices.

Sri Lanka’s Power Struggles Amid Economic Turmoil

Amid an economic downturn, Sri Lanka has faced months of daily power cuts, culminating in widespread protests and the storming of the presidential residence. The failure of a hydropower plant, coupled with a diesel shortage, has intensified load shedding episodes. The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is unable to meet the island’s demand for electricity, reflecting a nationwide crisis.

Sustainable Development Goals 7 and 10: energy for poverty-reduction

Sustainable Development Goals 7 (SDG7) and 10 (SDG10) spotlight the vital link between energy access and poverty reduction, underlining a nuanced understanding of energy poverty that transcends mere lack of access. The United Nations’ SDG7 emphasizes the importance of universal access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy, not just as an end but as a means to catalyze broader socio-economic development.
Indeed, the synergy between SDG7, aimed at ensuring affordable and clean energy, and SDG10, focused on reducing inequalities, is pivotal to achieving sustainable development. Access to clean and affordable energy resources is instrumental in bridging inequalities, empowering vulnerable communities with essential services for education, healthcare, and economic growth. Moreover, a transition to clean energy that prioritizes the needs of these groups can significantly narrow economic disparities and enhance overall well-being, contributing to the goals of SDG10.
Historically, no nation has successfully eradicated poverty without a substantial increase in energy consumption. Yet, despite the acknowledged role of sustainable energy in alleviating poverty, over 800 million people worldwide lack electricity access. Additionally, 40% of the global population continues to depend on solid fuels for cooking and heating, underscoring the persistent challenge of energy inequity.
The burden of energy costs disproportionately affects the impoverished, who pay a significant portion of their household income on energy, either directly in cash or indirectly through labor. This disparity is exacerbated not only by lower incomes but also by the reliance on inefficient fuels and technologies, highlighting the critical need for targeted interventions to ensure equitable energy access and contribute to the overarching aim of reducing global poverty.

Lead image courtesy of Miteman from Getty Images Signature