We are fortunate to live in a country that offers us a multitude of natural resources yet to be harnessed for their entire potential. Arguably the most important of these, with reference to the current energy crisis and the intensifying effects of climate change, is renewable sources of energy. It is imperative that not only the government, but private entrepreneurs also take the initiative of harnessing renewable energy sources. The aim should not only be to close the ever-widening gap between energy production and demand but also to introduce a new market for sustainable means of increasing consumption through low emissions development.
Solar photovoltaic technology coupled with light-emitting diode (LED) lights and innovative heating and cooking systems all have a high potential for saving significant amounts of energy and reducing environmental burden. These products can help the urban population cut down on its energy bills. As for those who live in the rural areas, such products can provide for street lighting.
The Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy (PCRET) has already undertaken some encouraging work in this regard by researching the potential of renewable sources of energy for commercial and personal use through localised design and development principles. In the last few years, PCRET has designed and developed 10 solar dryers for drying of dates, a solar hybrid system for dehydration of apricots on a commercial scale and has handed over more than 500 solar cookers to NGOs (see Pakistan Country Report on Renewable Energy).
Hence, this technology has the potential for customised application in commercial and residential spheres. Importing assembly kits and setting up small-scale assembly plants in smaller towns and cities is one way of making this into a successful social enterprise. The government should create a favourable policy environment and this can be done by offering incentives to investors in this sector. The government does have a key role to play in facilitating the development of such a market for renewable energy products, but local private entrepreneurs also have a golden opportunity. Solar-powered lights, heating and cooling systems offer viable alternatives to current fossil fuel burning household energy needs.
A number of NGOs are already working across the country to help create awareness and build capacity for the replication of energy-efficient and sustainable sources of lighting, heating and cooking technologies. As countries across the world introduce policies to encourage these developments our government must do the same.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.