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Pakistan fails to focus on renewable energy despite soaring oil import bill

Pakistan spends billions of dollars every year to import oil to cater to the growing energy needs of the country, while ignoring the huge potential of renewable energy.

Saudi Arabia, one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world, recently admitted that oil does not represent the energy source of the future. Mecca, which hosts millions of pilgrims a year, is working toward becoming the first city in Saudi Arabia to operate an entire power plant from renewable energy sources.

However, Pakistan which is rich in the renewable sources of solar and wing energy has yet to adopt a vision for boosting this sector to curtail its every increasing oil import bill. Pakistan’s oil import bill soared by 43.52 percent to reach $12.583 billion during the first ten months of FY12 against $8.768 billion in the same period of last year.

According to the latest figures released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the break-up of $12.583 billion oil import revealed that the country imported petroleum products worth $8.355 billion in July-April 2011-2012, up by 69.81 per cent against $ 4.920 billion in the same period of last year.

Meanwhile, the import of petroleum crude increased by 9.89 per cent to $ 4.228 billion during the period under review against $3.848 billion in the corresponding period of last year.

Renewable energy is reliable and plentiful and will potentially be very cheap once technology and infrastructure improve. Nonrenewable energy, such as coal and petroleum, requires costly explorations and dangerous mining and drilling, and they will become more expensive as supplies dwindle and demand increases.

Renewable energy in Pakistan is a relatively underdeveloped sector; however, in recent years, there has been some interest by environmentalist groups and from the authorities to explore renewable energy resources for energy production, in light of the energy crises and power shortages affecting the country.

Most of the renewable energy in Pakistan comes from hydroelectricity. There have been some efforts to install and expand the use of solar energy in Pakistan.

Pakistan is developing wind power plants in Jhimpir, Gharo, Keti Bandar and Bin Qasim in Sindh province. Another area with potential is Swat which shows good wind conditions. Focusing more on the sector of renewable energy can help alleviate many issues of Pakistani society, particularly the spending of huge budgetary allocations on the import of oil.It is the high time that the Pakistani policymakers reset their energy sector priorities and give proper focus to the vital sector of renewable energy.

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