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A move towards low-cost electricity in Pakistan

Pakistan's power sector is in chaos, and authorities have dubbed it a "black hole that is devouring the economy." 

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has been focusing on promoting solar power projects for combatting with power crisis faced by the country. On Thursday, the PM approved setting up of 2000 megawatts solar power projects in the public sector to produce low-cost and environment friendly electricity in Pakistan.

Solar power projects would become substitute to expensive fuel-fired projects. Hence, dependence on imports would reduce and valuable foreign exchange would be saved.

The government is accumulating significant debt from private power generation companies while also failing to meet rising energy demands. Imports of fuel and other raw materials for energy production amount to more than $12 billion, putting a strain on the national budget, and the situation has gotten worse as the rupee has depreciated, raising electricity rates for consumers.

Read more: 10,000mw solar power plants to be installed before summers 2023

At first, agricultural tube wells in all four provinces will be converted to solar power.

According to the prime minister, problems of distribution and line losses, electricity theft, and a growth in cyclical debt can be eliminated by shifting on solar energy.

He stated that the government will provide sovereign guarantees to companies investing in solar energy.

It was told in the meeting that on the 14th of this month, an investors’ conference was held in Pakistan to discuss investment in the solar energy sector. Officials of investment companies from local and international countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China, and Qatar attended and expressed strong interest in investing in the solar energy sector in Pakistan.

The gathering was also informed that work has begun to choose the location for the country’s new solar power plants. In this connection, a location near Muzaffargarh has been found for the construction of a 600 MW solar power plant. Aside from that, plans are being developed for solar-powered 11KV feeders.

The meeting was also informed that the framework and tariff for solar energy investment are being developed, with consultation taking place between the Power Division, Alternate Energy Development Board, Central Power Purchasing Company, NEPRA, and other institutions.

Importance of solar power projects in Pakistan

Pakistan’s power sector is in chaos, and authorities have dubbed it a “black hole that is devouring the economy.”

Energy generation is heavily dependent on fossil fuels in Pakistan. Due to the huge population and current progress in industrialization, these sources are not fulfilling the existing energy needs of the country. Meanwhile, they have adverse environmental impacts and are economically unsuitable to electrify remote areas. Consequently, there is a need to look for alternate energy sources.

Read more: How solar panels help conserve energy?

Pakistan has the potential of producing 2.9 million MW of solar energy. It seems that the incumbent government has realized this as they expect to launch solar projects of 9,000 MW on a priority basis to ease burden on the power sector.

The only way forward is to disassemble this chaotic and inefficient system and gradually shift to renewable, eco-friendly energy production methods.