LAHORE: A paradigm shift is needed in favour of renewable energy and locally produced fuels for electricity generation in a bid to fix Pakistan’s energy woes, suggested Almas Hyder, a prominent industrialist.
Talking to media at the maiden meeting of the Energy and Security Group, Hyder was of the view that renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power, should be assigned top priority.
“Today, the cheapest source of power generation available in Pakistan is solar,” he pointed out. “In the US, solar power plus storage is selling for 3.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which translates into around Rs4 per unit.”
Elsewhere, Electricite de France SA, which bids to supply power from a 300-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant for as little as 1.79 US cents per kWh, remains the cheapest-ever price of solar power in the world.
“We must not forget latest trends in solar and wind energy. In the past two years, US investment in solar power stood at 37%, in wind energy 25%, natural gas 37% and hydroelectric power 0%,” Hyder said. Not only the US, according to Hyder, the trend of all leading economies including China, India and the European Union exhibited minimal to no investment in hydroelectric power.
Talking about the energy scenario in Pakistan, he pointed out that the country had been facing acute energy shortages, which adversely impacted its economic growth. Energy mix in Pakistan switched from the one dominated by hydroelectric power to a fossil fuel-led mix over the past three decades, he said. The key reason behind that major shift was the rapidly growing energy demand.
In the meantime, Pakistan’s dependence on imported energy resources accentuated, leading to their limited availability at high economic cost.
Pakistan had installed electricity generation capacity of 28,704 megawatts as of May 30, 2018. Average demand was 25,389MW and the shortfall ranged between 4,000 and 5,000MW.
Among principal sources of power generation in 2018, oil fuel has a share of about 17%, hydel 26.08%, domestic gas 15.4%, imported LNG 23.5%, coal 9.9%, wind and solar power 5.3% and nuclear electricity about 4.3%. In the next 10 years, Hyder foresaw a 4-5% increase in electricity demand and the country needing an additional 20,000 to 25,000MW by the year 2030.
“This forecast comes in the backdrop of a lopsided energy mix, diminishing domestic fuel reserves, lingering circular debt and transmission hold-ups,” Hyder remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2018.