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Renewable Energy Scenario of Pakistan

Pakistan is an oil importing country and its economy suffers the most by the oil prices inflict. Majority of its power generation is thermal with furnace oil, high-speed diesel and natural gas as fuel; coal is almost now existent. Because of fast growing economy and population the demand of energy is rapidly increasing. The electricity generation capacity in Pakistan is over 20,000 MW. This is not enough to meet our electricity demand. According to GOP estimates the generation capacity needs to grow by 50% by 2010 in order to meet the expected demand.

The importance of renewable energy cannot be ignored; the biggest challenge facing renewable energy technologies is to excel in state of the art technologies where more renewable options can generate energy at cost, that are competitive with conventional sources. During the last twenty years, Pakistan has not shown quite significant developments in Renewable Technologies. Photovoltaic technology is being used in Pakistan for rural electrification, telephone exchanges, repeater stations, highway emergency telephone, centers, and refrigeration of vaccines. Solar panels in different powers and sizes are available in the local market, which are imported from America, Europe, China and also being fabricated in the country. PCRET has designed and developed solar water-heaters, solar cookers, solar dehydrator and solar desalination plants. Solar dehydrators are being used in the northern areas for drying of fruits and vegetables. Solar water heaters are also available in the market, which are imported from America, Australia, Europe, China and are also manufactured locally. PCRET is main agency involved in the installation of biogas plants in the country, which are locally manufactured in the country. Pakistan Council of Renewable energy Technologies (PCRET) and Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) are also involved in the installation of micro hydel plants in the northern areas and NWFP. They have designed and developed micro hydel turbines, which are fabricated through local manufacturers. The wind turbines are imported from abroad, but the micro turbine fabrication facilities are established in the country.

Pakistan is endowed with various renewable energy resources such as hydel,  solar,  wind,  geothermal and bio-fuel. It can earn dividends if these resources are explored, exploited and developed properly. Hydropower source of energy is well known in Pakistan and there is ever growing experience in the sector to develop the hydro-power potential indigenously in the country. Hydro-potential is estimated at about 50,000 MW, out of which about 6595MW has been developed. Pakistan lies in an area of one of the highest solar insulation in the world. The average solar radiation is 5.5 KW/m2 and there are more than 300 clear days. Wind energy is another important area where Pakistan can benefit by exploiting it in efficient manner. The wind potential is estimated upto 50,000 MW. Urban areas of Pakistan generate over 55000 tonnes of solid wastes daily. There are 56.9 million animals (Buffaloes, cows) in Pakistan, which can generate 21.35 million M3 biogas and 36.0 million tonnes of biofertilizer per day. The creek systems of Indus Delta extends over an area of 170 Km. It is estimated that about 100 KW power can be produced from the source. There are more than 6000 surface indications of geo-thermal energy resources with an estimated potential of 800,000 KW.

In Pakistan most of the research, development, promotion and dissemination work in the field of renewable energy is carried out by Public Sector Organizations because of lack of such capabilities in the private sector. Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) and Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) are playing a major role in promoting the development of infrastructure for RE power generation in the country. However, small section of Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), National University of Science & Technology (NUST), GIK Institute of Engineering & Technology, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and National Center for Physics and some departments of Universities are involved in the research and development of renewable energies in Pakistan.

Renewable Energy account for 180 MW of Pakistan’s present power output, small to medium size hydropower plants offer the greatest renewable energy potential for Pakistan. The solar potential is estimated over 100,000 MW. Possibilities also exist in promoting greater use of wind, solar and biomass project. The GOP had approved the policy for development of Renewable Energy for power generation – 2006. According to this policy the wind and solar energy will be developed in the country to meet at least 5% of the total installed capacity through RE resources by 2030 (i.e. 9700 MW). Furthermore, 7,874 remote off-grid villages in province of Sindh and Balochistan will be electrified through Renewable Energy. Biodiesel will be gradually blended with petroleum diesel to achieve a maximum share of 5% by volume of the total diesel consumption in the country by the year 2015 and 10% by 2025.

Development of the power generation potential of existing RE sources, solar, biomass, microhydel and windmills, offers substantial business opportunities for manufacturers and exporters. American companies already dominate the foreign-owned portion of the local RE power generation market with almost 25 per cent of market share, followed by European and Chinese companies, which have 10 per cent and 5 per cent of market share respectively. The remaining 60 per cent of current power is in the hands of domestic companies the main challenge faced in the execution of wind projects is the availability of equipment. Wind turbines are not available off the grid in the world market. This is due to the fact that United States has an extensive wind energy programme that offer tax rebate. All leading manufacturers of wind energy equipment have fully committed existing supplies to the American market.

The international donor agencies like Asian Development Bank (ADB), German Agency for Technical Corporation (GTZ), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), European Union (EU-Asia) and World Bank have launched various projects for the promotion, utilization and development of renewable energy technologies within the country. The GOP should make strategies to encourage the stakeholders of Public and Private Sector by making a pragmatic National Policy for the development of alternate and renewable source of energy.

Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) with the help of renowned international experts / agencies such as United Stated National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), GIT from Germany and Risoe from Denmark, has identified the RE potential as follows:

  • Wind                                             340,000 MW
  • Solar                                             2,900,000 MW
  • Hydro (Large)                           50,000 MW
  • Hydro (Small)                           3,100 MW
  • Bagasse Cogeneration            1,800 MW
  • Waste to Power                         500 MW
  • Geothermal                                500 MW