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LAHORE: "Renewable energy is a cheap source of energy and has changed the approach of big economies from conventional sources of power to more efficient, cheap and nature friendly resources."

President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh expressed these views while addressing a delegation of renewable energy sector, here on Monday.

He said Pakistan is full of resources needed for renewable energy as it can receive about 1KW of solar energy for square meter of its landmass for 6-7 hours on the average per day. Pakistan receives 3000-3300 sunshine hours per year on average and provides a great opportunity to the investors to focus on this sector, he added.

He said that Punjab province has a vital importance in Pakistan's economy as it contributes around 55 percent to the national GDP and accounts for about 68 percent of electricity demand in the country.

Energy is an important component of the investment climate in our province because of its role as an important input in the production process, adding that although Pakistan has enhanced its power generation capacity considerably in recent times. We are still far away from an optimal energy mix as a heavy percentage of our energy is still derived from thermal sources while the share of renewable (including solar and hydropower) in our energy mix is still strained, he added.

In addition to the environmental concerns, the increased dependence on expensive thermal power generation results in tariff hikes, subsidies, circular debt, inefficiencies which hamper the competitiveness of Industrial sector in Punjab. Pakistan needs around 20,000MW to 25,000MW electricity and the shortfall varies from about 4000MW to 9000MW. This shortage is badly hampering the economic growth of the country. Pakistan has a rich resource of energy in the form of hydel power and only 34 percent of total electricity generation is coming from hydropower, he added.

The LCCI chief said there is a great scope of marketing solar solutions in Pakistan as it is ideally located in the Sun Belt to take advantage of solar energy technologies. The major barriers in the growth of renewable energy in Pakistan are high cost of solutions, import duties and other taxes, he added.

So far as the renewable and alternative energy sources are concerned, LCCI always voice up in favour of this idea so that the current energy mix that is more concentrated on fossil fuels should be transformed by way of increasing the share of renewable sources, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020