Future Of Renewable Energy In Pakistan – OpEd

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Pakistan has a great potential for the future of renewable energy as the country looks forward to meeting its energy demands while minimizing the impact on the environment. Pakistan’s energy mix has historically been dominated by the fossil fuel and more specifically oil and natural gas. But the rising energy demand, environmental issues, and the depletion of conventional energy sources have compelled the country to look for renewable energy sources.

Pakistan has been blessed with different types of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, hydropower and biomass. Pakistan has the potential for solar energy due to its geographical location as it receives high solar insolation during most of the year. Pakistan has the best prospects for solar electricity production among all the countries of the world. As the World Bank has stated, investing only 0. 71% of the land area for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could provide enough electricity to meet the current demand in the country. This means that the potential for clean energy is almost inexhaustible, and all that is required is for it to be harnessed. This recognition is evident in the government’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019, which has set a target of having 30% of renewable energy to the national grid by 2030. A report by the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) indicates that Pakistan has the potential of generating more than 2. 9 million MW of electricity from solar energy alone. This potential is being harnessed with several big solar projects in the pipeline, including the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur, which is planned to generate 1000MW of electricity.

Another potential area in Pakistan is the wind energy. Sindh and Baluchistan provinces have been recognized as the most suitable areas for wind power development along the coastlines. For example, the Gharo-Keti Bandar wind corridor in Sindh has the potential to produce electricity of around 50,000 MW. There are already several wind power projects that have been implemented and there are others in the process of being implemented. As per the Global Wind Energy Council, Pakistan has an estimated wind power capacity of 1,248 MW in 2020 and the country aims to install more wind power capacity in the coming years.

Hydropower has always been an important source of energy in Pakistan as it contributes about 30% of electricity produced in the country. The country has an estimated hydropower resource of 60,000 MW while the installed capacity is only at 11,000 MW. There are large scale projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and the Dasu Hydropower Project which has the potential to add a large amount of capacity to the national grid and increase the renewable energy mix of the country.

Biomass energy, which is obtained from agricultural residues, animal waste, and municipal solid waste, also has the potential in Pakistan. The country has large biomass resources that can be converted into energy since it has a large agricultural sector. According to the Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies, the biomass has the potential to provide approximately 5,000 MW to the national grid.

In the context of Pakistan, government policies and interventions have a significant impact on the generation of renewable energy. The government has also planned to increase the share of renewable energy to 30% of the total electricity consumption by 2030. This target is backed by several policies such as the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019 that offers incentives to investors in renewable energy sources. Further, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has promulgated the net metering regulations to support the use of small-scale renewable energy systems in the households and businesses.

Foreign partnerships and funding are also important in the development of renewable energy in Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has also helped in the development of renewable energy projects especially in the solar and wind power sectors. While not renewable, the 300 MW Gwadar coal power plant is an example of the rationale behind energy diversification within the CPEC framework. Moreover, the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been extending their financial and technical support for the Renewable energy projects in Pakistan.

Not with study above, there are several issues that must be considered to ensure the effective implementation of renewable energy sources in Pakistan. These are; Limited infrastructure development particularly in the areas of transmission and distribution to support integration of renewable energy into the grid. Resolution of financial issues is also important, such as high initial investment costs of renewable energy sources and the requirement for more favorable financial instruments to fund such projects.

Another factor that is equally important is the level of awareness within the community and the involvement of public in the renewable energy projects. Awareness creation and capacity development interventions can be used to enhance the uptake of renewable energy technologies among the populace.

To conclude it can be stated that the future of renewable energy in Pakistan seems promising with a good prospect in different types of renewable energy resources. It is the Government policies, international relations, and investment that are fueling the sector. However, the Government needs to address the infrastructural, financial, and social issues to make Pakistan capable of exploiting the renewable energy resources effectively and efficiently in the future and to make the country more energy secure by adopting the renewable energy resources.

Muskan Moazzam

Muskan Moazzam is a student of Quaid e Azam University and has worked with institutes like National Assembly of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is currently associated with some national and international think tanks.

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