Prospects of Renewable Energy in Pakistan

Topics: Energy development, Renewable energy, Wind power Pages: 29 (9487 words) Published: August 31, 2013


“Energy is synonymous with civilisation. It is the lifeline for economic growth and development. The continuing volatility of fuel prices and conventional energy’s deep carbon foot print coupled with close nexus between water, energy, and food security has brought energy access and energy security issues into even sharper focus” - Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan

Today, only 55% of Pakistan’s population has access to electricity. The nation is currently facing a 4 GW power supply shortage which is the most severe energy crisis ever to hit the country . The occurrence of prolonged and frequent power outages has had a negative impact on industry operation, the economy and the livelihood of citizens in general . While the energy shortage continues to grow, abundant indigenous sustainable energy resources such as wind, solar and biomass remain virtually untapped. The government attempted to promote the adoption of Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) in 2006 (Attached as Annex A) by implementing its first renewable energy policy. However, this policy has had limited success and faces a number of challenges. The future of renewable energy in Pakistan relies heavily on identifying these challenges and addressing them in order to pave the way forward for a sustainable and secure energy future of Pakistan.

Currently, approximately 66% of power generation in Pakistan is derived from fossil fuels (primarily oil and gas) followed by hydroelectricity (30%) and nuclear energy (3%). Hydro is the only sustainable energy resource which Pakistan employs for large-scale power generation. The implementation of the 2006 renewable energy policy has stimulated some interest in large-scale renewable power generation, but only one 50 MW wind energy project has been deployed in the Sindh region to date - that, too, with limited success.

The potential for renewable energy technologies to bridge the gap between energy supply and demand in Pakistan is significant. Renewable energy projects have the potential to improve energy security, provide socioeconomic benefits, reduce local pollution and mitigate climate change . Further, due to the decentralized nature of renewable energy projects, they have the potential to provide electricity to remote and rural areas, thereby helping to alleviate poverty and reducing the need to collect and burn fossil fuel .

Solar, wind, biomass and hydro energy resources are widespread and abundant in Pakistan. The potential for each of these energy resources to help meet energy needs will be discussed below.

Pakistan lies in a region of high solar irradiance; as such, it is ideally suited for solar energy projects. Pakistan receives about 15.5x1014 kWh of solar irradiance each year with most regions receiving approximately 8 to 10 sunlight hours per day. The installed capacity of solar photovoltaic power is estimated to be 1600 GW per year, providing approximately 3.5 PWh of electricity (a figure approximately 41 times that of current power generation in the country) .

Wind energy has also been shown to have strong technical potential in Pakistan, particularly in the southern regions of Sindh and Balochistan. Pakistan has approximately 1000 km of coastline with steady average wind speeds ranging between 5-7 m/s. The projected installed capacity for wind energy projects is estimated at 122.6 GW per year, providing about 212 TWh of electricity (a figure approximately 2.5 times that of the current power generation level) .

As mentioned previously, hydro is the only sustainable energy resource which Pakistan has been effectively employed for large-scale power generation. Currently, Pakistan has an installed hydropower capacity of approximately 6.6 GW. This figure is only 16% of the total hydropower potential in Pakistan, estimated to be about 41.5 GW .

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