Pakistan’s energy and economic sectors have a good news as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered the removal of 17 per cent general sales tax on solar panels imposed by the previous government. The decision will help reduce the country’s oil import bill as well as support production of clean energy in the country. According to studies, Pakistan has 2.9 million megawatts of solar energy potential besides photovoltaic opportunities. With eight to nine hours of sunshine per day the climatic conditions in Pakistan are ideal for solar power generation, which can help ease prevailing energy crisis that poses a threat to the country’s economy and stability. Amid the debilitating energy crisis, the use of solar energy is a ray of hope. The utilisation of renewable energy resources, both on a large and small scale will help decrease the suffering of citizens due to the power deficit and outages. The government should not hesitate to take up projects aimed at exploiting solar energy potential. The sun is the most reliable renewable energy source we have and a solar installation can produce virtually free power for a hundred years following the initial installation costs. This is also the most affordable option for electrifying far-flung areas where small and scattered communities live. The cost of energy produced through solar and wind power is more feasible and affordable compared to electricity produced by conventional thermal power plants running on fossil fuel and which then has to be transported to such remote areas, an enterprise whose per capita cost is prohibitive.
Like other new technologies that are helping us limit our reliance on fossil fuels, solar energy is still costly and will take time to become a household word. But it has immediate benefits to society due to its comparatively quick installation. The utilisation of solar, wind and other such renewable energy resources must be welcomed. At the same time, the government should not abandon the long term and cheap power generation option of hydel power. At the national level, all political parties should support all efforts by the government to build solar power plants and the scope of solar power should be extended to the whole country. The government needs to introduce policies to encourage citizens to opt for renewable energy sources in homes and commercial buildings. They can optimise solar energy by using their roof spaces and the government should extend every possible help in this regard. The government should not hesitate to take up solar power projects because of initial high costs because their lifetime utility and low running and maintenance costs make them affordable. It is the need of the hour that the government should invest its energies to better utilise this natural source of producing electricity.