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Greater focus demanded on renewable energy
Karachi: There is a need to focus on the use of renewable energy to improve environment in Pakistan on one hand and to meet growing energy demanded on the other, an expert told a briefing organized by IUCN Pakistan organised a briefing here Friday.
The briefing was given by Carl Pope, who is a world renowned expert on renewable energy. Mr. Carl is former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and has regularly contributed for the Huffington Post. The event was attended by a large number of participants from the development as well as business sector.
During the briefing, Carl Pope shared comparative figures as to how the cost of coal, a major fossil fuel has soared in the recent years. According to him, the cost of electric grids is increasing over time with escalating cost of copper, a major raw material, making a case for focussing on renewable energy options. He was of the view that the demand for coal is expected to rise in the world markets, mainly because growing economies like India and China have constructed more coal plants than they can run. This lack of supply will make coal even more expensive, hence the need of the hour is to switch to renewable energy. He mentioned that the good news is that the price of renewables like solar and LED lights has declined in the past few years in comparison.
It is estimated that presently over 1.3 billion people in the world live without electricity and 1 billion people will remain without electricity until 2030 if the switch to alternatives doesn’t happen. Out of this one billion, approximately 700 million are resident of South Asia.
He said that the key is making it economical for the communities to bear the upfront cost of renewable products like solar panels, wind turbines etc. He cited the examples of “Leasing or Renting”, where communities pay monthly amounts, over an agreed fixed term or progressive ownership, where the unit ownership is transferred to the customer after the final amount has been paid. He also suggested the widely used model of “Pay as you go” which can now be accomplished though mobile phone payment mechanisms.
He was of the view that Pakistan has huge potential to develop renewable energy projects, since it is the third largest off grid population after India and Bangladesh and has excellent solar, biomass, micro hydro opportunities coupled with centralized landowning, which could make credit guarantees easier. In Pakistan, electricity crisis is severe and destabilizing and there is an acute need to cut down on electricity generation costs. Due to this energy crisis, the country has suffered huge losses, making hundreds and thousands of people jobless.
Mir Hussain Ali, Secretary Environment and Alternate Energy Department, Government of Sindh talked about several projects that the government is currently working on. Talking about the opportunities in the wind corridor, he said, that the government is working on about 40 projects with various investors with total generation capacity of 2000 MW in the next two years. This will allow the electrification of about 120 schools in rural Sindh. The government is also supplying solar stoves and working on a biogas project worth 200 million rupees. In Mirpurkhas, Solar Water Pumping Stations have been installed to meet the electricity crunch. He talked about having immense potential of biogas at the Cattle Colony in Karachi and prospects in coastal areas of Pakistan in lieu of wind related projects. He said that Renewable Energy projects often don’t get a green light in public sector because of the initial costs.