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Alternative energy sources to solve the energy crisis?

Rich in solar and wind energy resources, with the capacity to generate around 143,000MW of electricity, the government has embarked on a project to attract foreign investment to help bridge the demand-supply gap by exploiting alternative energy sources. As per official estimates, the government is eyeing around $1.2 to $ 2.7 billion investment merely in the wind energy sector, and dozens of similar projects, to woo foreign investment in the solar energy sector, are in progress.

Pakistan is currently developing wind power plants in Jhimpir, Gharo, Keti Bandar and Bin Qasim in Sindh. The government believes this would not only help reduce electricity shortage, but would also help ease the burden of oil imports, that cost over $12 billion annually.The average wind speed in most parts of the world is between 6.2 and 6.9 meters per second (fair category). There are a few places that fall under ‘good’ category where the wind speed is between 7 and 7.3 m/s. However, the wind speed in the Sindh corridor is stronger than the above two categories as it stands in the ‘excellent’ category of 7.5 to 7.7 m/s. According to a USAID report, Pakistan has the potential of producing 150,000 megawatts of wind energy, of which only the Sindh corridor can produce 40,000 megawatts. Keeping in view this rich potential, the government has planned to achieve electric power of up to 2500 MW by the end of 2015, from wind energy to ease the energy shortage. Earlier, former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had inaugurated the country’s first-ever wind energy scheme `Zorlu Energy Wind Power Project’ with a generation capacity of 50MW in Jhimpir, on April 2009. The project is nearly 60 per cent complete and will start its trial production this year.

This 60 kilometer long and 170 kilometer deep corridor alone has the potential to generate over 50,000 megawatts of electricity. Pakistan Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) recently approved the New Park Energy Phase I, a 400-MW wind project, near Port Qasim. With the help of China 3 Gorges Corporation, a 50 MW wind energy plan at Jhimpir in Sindh will be completed next year. The wind power pilot project has been made operational by installing a wind turbine at Daman-i-Koh in Islamabad. Recently, an MoU had been signed at the two-day second Pak-ChinaJoint Energy Group (JEWG) for setting up wind energy projects of an accumulative capacity of 550MW initially. Moreover, the government has also created a fund to implement alternative energy technology in the country. According to a study, the country has identified the cumulative potential of generating 3.2 million MW from various renewable energy resources.

As per breakup, 340,000 MW could be generated from Wind, 2,900,000 from Solar, 50,000 MW from Hydro (large), 3,100 MW from Hydro (Small), 1800 MW from Bagass Cogeneration, 500 MW from Waste while 550 MW could be generated from Geothermal power sources. A number of countries have successfully developed renewable energy sources from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, ocean tides and bio fuels to minimize dependence on fossil fuels.

Sources in the energy sector said that currently 11 wind projects, with a cumulative capacity of 556 MW, have reached an advanced stage of completion and some of these would start supplying electricity by December this year, whereas the others would be functional by 2013. The government is determined to overcome the energy crisis in the country. It has taken several measures in the past and has been carrying out several programs to provide relief to the common man and help boost industry in the country, the sources added. Efforts were also being made to convince the owners of sugar mills to use cane waste for power generation. One of the advantages of using solar energy is that apart from the initial installation and maintenance costs, solar energy is one hundred percent free and does not require expensive and constant raw material like oil or coal, and requires significantly lower operational labor than conventional power production. Realizing country’s growing demand for power, in the industrial and agricultural sectors, and growing domestic consumption, the government has initiated several solar power projects to address the power and energy crisis.

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