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Monday, May 29, 2023
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EditorialYes, move towards alternative energy sources

Yes, move towards alternative energy sources

With dwindling natural reserves and the high cost of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Pakistan should have completely turned to alternative energy sources a long time back. Many countries have moved away from fossil fuels and have adopted solar and wind energy. Among them are China and India. The recent plan floated by the government to undertake a 10-year energy transition is a step in the right direction.

As per the strategy, the government will shift from gas to electricity in commercial, industrial and residential sectors. The Rs45 billion energy efficiency and conservation project is estimated to generate savings worth over Rs500bn per annum.

The project received a nod from the Central Development Working Party, following which negotiations would be initiated with the World Bank for a $150 million loan, which includes a $15 million technical grant for capacity-building of the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

The present primary energy supply stands at about 95 million tonnes of oil equivalent, which is likely to cross 115 million due to an increase in consumption by 2025. For people to understand what oil equivalent is, here is its definition. It is a unit of energy defined as the amount of energy released by burning one tonne of crude oil. Energy costs consume over one-fourth of an average household expense. Keeping in view the ongoing reforms needed to curtail circular debt, this percentage would further increase.

As far as industry is concerned, a combination of expensive and inefficient utilisation of energy hurts Pakistan’s economy. It loses its competitiveness internationally. The energy conservation project will enable both domestic and commercial users to shift from inefficient gas geysers or boilers to electrically-powered appliances. The whole idea of the project is to cut down on fossil fuel reliance and move to inexpensive alternatives.

This will help save foreign exchange, reduce household expenses and promote a green economy.

However, if we want to shift to electricity to save foreign reserves and give a breather to families, it also has to be seen that power generation is not costly. At present, most of Pakistan’s electricity is produced through natural gas, followed by hydroelectricity, furnace oil, and coal. Wind and solar alternatives form the smallest percentage when it comes to power generation.

And this is where we need to focus.

According to a study titled ‘Solar and Wind Roadmap for Pakistan’ conducted by the German think tank, Agora Energiewendie, Pakistan can generate at least 33,000 megawatts of solar and wind power, or more than 48 percent of the planned increase in power production to nearly 70,000 MW in the next 10 years. This can lead to cost savings of 15pc and emission savings of almost 50 percent.

Pakistan needs to promote alternative energy sources. Fossil fuel is a thing of the past. With abundant water, wind, and solar resources, we can shift to these alternatives in high gear. What is required is proper planning – be it infrastructural or economic. The country’s reserves are exhausting.

Alternative energy sources would save the country unnecessary expenses and provide much-needed relief to the common man. It’s time to think outside the box.

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