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KARACHI: Energy experts have urged the government to enhance renewable energy’s (RE) share in Pakistan’s energy mix to stabilize the power sector. The experts say that renewables are the only long term solution to resolve the country’s energy crisis.

The experts were speaking at a consultative session on “Utility-scale renewable energy transition in Pakistan”. The discussion was organized by Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development (PRIED), a think tank working for Pakistan’s transition to clean energy.

Renewables are the cheapest solution both in the long and short term, said Samir Ahmed, Principal Consultant and CEO at Energy Future Consulting.

“The only stumbling block in the uptake of RE is intermittency. But multiple solutions to overcome the intermittency issue are practiced globally, such as storage [of energy produced by renewables],” he added.

Another energy expert, Suresh Kumar, Manager Commercial at Shanghai Electric Group, said that the country’s Renewable Energy (RE) targets are just figures and even the projects initiated under RE Policy 2006 are not yet materialized.

“The short-term decisions of the government with no long-term objective generation plan have discouraged county’s RE investments in the past,” he said. Giving an insight into RE policy 2019, Kumar added that the government has decided to increase the share of RE to 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

“Under this policy, both solar photovoltaic and wind projects would be developed in a solicited mode. So the time required for a project to achieve commercial operations under this process would be three years at the minimum,” he said.

Kumar added that the first-ever Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2030 was approved last year while the new ARE Policy 2019 is also in place, but the RE targets set in both need to be aligned. He said no development can be seen to meet the target set under the new ARE policy.

Zain Moulvi from Alternative Law Collective said that the present strategies to increase RE share in the power sector are misguided on both environmental as well as economic grounds. He said that Pakistan’s IGCEP has focused mainly on adding hydropower into the energy mix at the cost of wind and solar power. The share of wind and solar is still trailing behind the minimum target of 30% by 2030 set by the ARE policy, he said.

“This misplaced focus on hydro comes even though hydro projects have been notorious for cost overruns and delays. These projects are also connected to causing destruction to the Indus system and mass displacements of locals, as witnessed in the cases of Neelum-Jhelum and Tarbela Dams in the past.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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