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Need To Revitalize Renewable Energy Sector In Pakistan

The government agencies and big corporations have been focused on diversifying clean energy resources for a long time. These agencies have been aiming at reduction in carbon emission, minimizing the environmental impact of conventional electricity production and preventing fast depletion of natural resources like fossil fuels.

During the pandemic, while the pressure has been mounting on world economy, low cost solutions and sustainable growth have become key challenges for markets and states.

According to a Wall Street journal article, new CEO of British petroleum has announced to invest approx. $5 billion annually in renewable energy like Wind and Solar power by 2030. The company will reduce the production in oil and gas by 40% in next decade. Similarly, according to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, the company’s solar and energy storage business will grow faster than the electric automotive business in coming years.

Pakistani economy is still heavily dependent on the non renewable sources to supply electricity and simultaneously, the country is facing the water crisis as well. The electric supply is managed by two major companies: WAPDA supplies electricity all across Pakistan except Karachi where K-Electric has monopoly.

There is a huge gap between demand and supply. According to the economic survey of Pakistan 2019-2020, total demand for residential and industrial sectors stands at 25,000 Megawatt while the transmission and distribution capacity is freezed at 22,000 Megawatt.

According to world resource institute data, Pakistan was ranked no.14 under extreme water stress region, as of 2019. The major factors creating the water stress in Pakistan are continuous increase in population, inefficient irrigation system/mismanagement of water in agriculture and climate change. Pakistani irrigation system causes 60% of water loss. Pakistan’s water productivity in agriculture is very low in comparison to agriculture sector in other countries. This sector is not motivated to use the technology or methods that help achieving more crops per drop. Or let’s put it this way, farmers are not trained to save per water drop vs. per unit of production. Currently, Pakistani population stands at 220 million and as per the forecast for 2025, the demand for agriculture land could reach upto 274 million acre-feet while the supply would be 191 million acre-feet.

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To deal with constantly increasing demand of electricity and water due to modernization and urbanization, government agencies are inclined towards cleaner and renewable energy resources that are hydro power, solar, wind, and geothermal power. Pakistan’s renewable energy sector is relatively under developed and according to latest studies of World Bank, Pakistan needs to expand solar and wind power to 30% of total electricity capacity by 2030. If Pakistan achieves the target of expanding renewable energies, the country will be able to save $5 billion in next 20 years in potential fuel and other costs.

Pakistan, India and China account for nearly 40% of total world population. These three countries have nuclear capabilities and have greater potential to provide combined solution to their consumers through consolidated renewable energy projects to deal with constant growth in demand. Shortage of energy supply is a common problem for Pakistan, China and India in recent times, along with high usage of fossil fuels and carbon emission. They are facing increase in carbon emission due to urbanization, industrialization and climate change.

India and Pakistan can start mutual solar panel projects to supply water in remote and deserted areas like Thar and Rajasthan through off-grid water production technology. These countries can resolve energy issues through negotiation, joint government policies and shared projects and start ups. This will bring regional prosperity, efficient and improved infrastructure, reduce dependency on non renewable resources and improve lifestyle of their citizens. The possibility of military confrontation and conflict will be reduced as well, once these countries get engaged in mutual economic growth plans.

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Naya Daur