Pak Economy: Renewable energy only solution

Anusha Rahman Khan

LAHORE: The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) was established as an autonomous body in 2003. In medium term, the AEDB was to ensure five percent of total national power generation capacity to be generated through renewable energy technologies, from 700 megawatts in 2010 to 9,700 megawatts by the year 2030.
Today, less than 0.2 megawatts of the renewable alternative energy is generated in the country. The coastal belt of the country is blessed with a God gifted wind corridor that is 60km wide and 180km long with an exploitable potential of 50,000 megawatt of electricity generation through wind energy.

Despite the fact that the AEDB claims to have issued LoIs to 93 national and international investors, allocated 33,976 acres of the government land so far to 22 investors, there is no wind farm of megawatt capacity installed in the country. By comparison, India is already generating over 8,000 megawatts, mostly from indigenously designed and manufactured wind plants.

The combination of firm orders for wind turbines by more visionary countries and total neglect on the part of the AEDB means that delivery times for any fresh orders from Pakistan stand at 2.5 to 3 years. The solar energy resource has been calculated at 800 million megawatt.

The solar energy intensity in the Sun Belt is approximately 1800-2200 kWh per square meter with an annual mean sunshine duration of 8 to 8.5 hours. These values are among the highest in the world and ideal for the Photo Voltaic and Concentrating Solar Plants.

Currently, there is no solar plant of megawatt capacity installed in the country. Indeed, the current capacity is a meagre 80 kilowatts. Despite the huge potential for mini/micro hydro power, the current installed mini/micro hydro capacity in Pakistan is zero. In view of the above, we now need to ensure a vertically integrated and holistic vision capable of serving the long-term needs of the country and fully exploit the God gifted renewable energy potential.

Therefore, we need to change the way in which we measure progress; move to new phase of larger scale projects in which progress is measured not just in terms of pilot/projects initiated, LoI signed, acres of land allotted, etc but in terms megawatts of energy produced and its socio-economic impact on the people of Pakistan; ensure maximum projects have public/private sector collaboration with maximum donor funding; change the way in which we source/procure technology.

All big projects importing technology should have ‘technology/knowledge transfer’ and ‘percentage local development’ clauses included in the contract to promote local manufacture and create employment. All projects should have strict deadlines and measurable milestones. Besides, we need to master at least three major renewable energy technologies to the point where Pakistan can set the strategy for other developing countries.

To achieve this, we need to create a vibrant local market through government help; encourage entrepreneurship, investment, research & innovation and growth.

Source: The Post, 28/7/2008

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