The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) expects four projects of 50 megawatts (MW) each to achieve financial close by the end of 2011, AEDB Rural Electrification Programme Director Imran Ahmed said.
He was speaking to industrialists at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Friday.
The projects that are expected to secure financing are Fauji Fertiliser and Zorlu with capacity of 50MW each and two projects of Fauji Foundation with the same capacity, Ahmed said, adding that various other projects of 500MW are also expected to secure financing in 2012.
AEDB, with the assistance of World Bank, has already started a study to find out how tube wells can be run on solar energy, he said. “Annual power consumption of tube wells is 3,000MW and if we are successful in shifting even 10 per cent of tube wells to solar energy, it will be very helpful in reducing power consumption,” he said.
Solar geysers can also play an important role in energy conservation. Some 70 per cent of gas in northern areas is consumed in water heating and this is where we can save a lot of gas, he stressed.
Giving the reasons of slow progress in alternative energy, he said, “the inter-corporate debt in the energy sector has been the biggest hurdle in the progress of alternative energy projects.”
“Owing to the circular debt and non-availability of funds, banks did not lend money for energy plants that delayed many projects,” he added.
Highlighting the bright prospects in renewable energy, he said. The geographical location of the country is also ideal for solar energy because it comes under the sunbelt.
Balochistan has the most feasible geographical location for solar energy while other provinces are far better than the best locations in Europe, he informed.
Underlining the importance of oil alternative, he said, Pakistan imports $13 billion worth of oil every year, which is 70 per cent of total imports. “We cannot afford this much of oil import bill owing to rising world oil prices,” he stressed.
KCCI officials said that Pakistan has to invest in alternative energy projects to reduce its dependence on oil imports. They said that the country will be facing huge challenges if it fails in controlling the swelling oil import bill.
They also highlighted that hydropower is the cheapest energy option with a cost of just six cents per unit. Other options are waste energy with eight cents and wind energy with 12 cents per unit, they informed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2011.
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