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Sindh govt looks to the sun to overcome power woes

As part of its efforts to deal with the energy crisis, the Sindh government is planning to amend building codes, making it mandatory to install solar power systems in all new buildings, including homes.

“The government will exploit solar power to control the energy crisis and reduce unnecessary expenditure, Irrigation Secretary Baber Hussain Effendi said on Friday.

He was talking to The News after attending a meeting at the Sindh Secretariat that was held to review the plan – initiated on the president’s directives – to make homes and other buildings run on solar power.

Effendi said officials of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) were also present at the meeting.

“The participants of the meeting discussed changing building laws for making it mandatory that a building utilises solar energy to meet five percent of its total electricity consumption,” he said.

“It was suggested that a summary to this effect would be moved to the chief minister for approval.”

The irrigation secretary said the decision would be applicable to both public and private buildings across the province.

Cost-effective

Effendi pointed out that the government paid around Rs500 million for running around 500 tube-wells in the province.

“A PC-I has been approved to run these tube-wells on solar energy and that will help the government reduce the power cost to a great extent.”

President’s Special Secretary Nasreen Haque told The News that the plan to convert homes and other buildings to solar power encompassed the whole country.

“The power ministry and the Alternative Energy Development Board are coordinating with the provinces to implement this proposal.”

Haque said after the installation of the solar energy systems, there would be no need for grid stations to supply electricity to homes. Another official familiar with the development said turning to solar and wind power was a good step, but it was also important to create awareness among the masses about those alternative energy sources.

“The equipment required for installing a solar power system is presently not available in the markets.”

The official regretted that the government was taking too much time to implement the crucial decisions required for energy conservation and exploiting alternative energy sources.

He recalled that the concept of installing solar energy systems in buildings was developed during the era of former president Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf, when Shahid Aziz was the head of the Alternative Energy Development Board. Subsequently, several meetings took place, but the plan could not be implemented.

Official sources said several decisions were made to improve the power situation in the country during a meeting on August 5, co-chaired by the president and the prime minister and attended by the ministers, federal secretaries and other officials concerned.

It was decided that the water and power ministry would coordinate with the provincial governments for amendments in their respective building codes to ensure that all new buildings should have provision for the utilisation of at least five percent of solar energy.

Both the president and the prime minister were expected to co-chair a meeting in the last week of August to review the progress on the previously made decisions.

The president’s special secretary has recently written a letter to the provinces, asking them to take early action to implement the president’s directives pertaining to solar energy.

The sources said the Sindh Local Government Department had prepared a draft to introduce the required change in the SBCA laws.

The amendment has been proposed in the existing Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations-2002’s chapter 25 that pertains to zoning regulations.

The proposed amendment in the sub-section No 25-1.9.4, moved by SBCA chief executive and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, reads: “In all building plans, the provision for utilisation of at least five percent of solar energy is mandatory.”

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