KARACHI: Speaking at the 5th International Conference on Power Generation at the Marriot hotel on Thursday, Sindh Minister for Electric Power Shazia Marri said that the provincial government is in the process of formulating a policy to facilitate private investment in energy projects. Under the policy, most of the population of Sindh will get electricity by 2020, said the minister.
Marri informed the gathering that local and foreign consultants were conducting detailed research to devise a comprehensive energy policy and expressed the government’s openness to suggestions from the academia and private firms.
“The private sector can help the government make the energy policy comprehensive. The policy will not be a copy pasting exercise or something that exists on paper only. It is taking some time, but it will be a valuable resource to help usher in a new era of energy production and utilization in the province,” she said.
She observed that Sindh has huge potential in generating hydel energy from small projects on the canals. Some Austrian and Chinese firms have already expressed their interest in such projects and the government wanted to move forward on their proposals, she said. The projects, modeled around existing plants in European countries, will produce power from ‘low-head’ hydel projects located on the main canals.
The minister remarked that Sindh is already self-sufficient in gas, producing 69 per cent of countrywide gas output while consuming only 26 percent of it. In addition, the policy will seek to generate at least 10 per cent of total electricity production through renewable sources such as wind, biomass and solar power. The government was already considering the production of biogas from sugar mills and refineries, she said.
She said that wrong policy measures by previous governments had caused disinvestment in the Thar coal project, with many of the foreign investors pulling out due to tariff issues. The country’s image had also hindered attracting foreign investment, “but we are now getting enthusiastic responses from foreign companies and some of them are on the ground in the Thar coal fields to take running projects forward.” she added.
Chairman Sindh Board of Investment Zubair Motiwala termed the government’s offer of a 20 per cent return on the Thar coal projects as ‘unprecedented and unheard of’ and hoped that the first plants would be commissioned by 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.
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