One of the primary barriers to economic progress in Pakistan continues to be the energy industry. Although Pakistan has been able to increase power generation since 2013 and reduce power blackouts that have plagued the nation for the past ten years, the power sector has been unable to develop and modernize due to high fuel costs, a reliance on imported energy products, persistent natural gas shortages, significant debt, and ageing and inadequate transmission and distribution systems. Pakistan’s current energy problems are made worse by poor administration, disorganized energy policymaking, and a lack of long-term energy planning. Pakistan has made significant progress in tackling these issues thanks to U.S. and foreign support, but without significant reforms, Pakistan’s energy future will continue to be difficult. Pakistan has four main renewable energy sources. These are wind, solar, hydro, and biomass.
Renewable Energy Sources in Pakistan
Pakistan has a total installed capacity for power generation of 39772 MW, of which 63% of the energy is thermal (derived from fossil fuels), 25% is hydroelectric, 5.4% is renewable (derived from wind, sun, and biomass), and 6.5% is nuclear. Resources for renewable energy (RE) have the potential to be crucial in bridging the deficit in the current situation. The Ministry of Energy has updated the 2019 Renewable Energy (RE) Policy in light of the current administration’s preference for renewable energy. The government of Pakistan intends to wean Pakistan from its dependence on foreign fuel products by 2030 by obtaining 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower.
List of Renewable Energy Sources:
In Sindh and Baluchistan’s coastline region, Pakistan has a lot of potential for wind energy use (in southern Pakistan). The southern coastal regions of Sindh and Baluchistan have been turned into a wind energy corridor by the Pakistani government (GOP). According to wind data from Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, the country’s coastline belt is 60 km (Gharo-Keti Bandar) and 180 km long, with a potential for 50,000 MW of wind turbine-based electricity generation. There are 26 private wind farms active at the moment, generating about 1335 MW. In addition, 10 wind projects totaling 510 MW in capacity have reached a financial close and are in the building phase. The ambitious goal of the Pakistani government’s RE Policy, which calls for generating 60% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2030, presents numerous prospects for the country’s wind energy sector.
With a revised RE Policy, there are opportunities for the development of small-mini-micro hydropower in addition to large hydro. Small hydropower projects are viewed favorably by the GOP as a cheap and clean source of electricity. The majority of Pakistan’s small hydropower plants are found in the country’s rural north. GOP recently announced an Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan to identify future generation requirements in terms of capacity, fuel technology, and utilizing local resources for power generation (IGCEP). According to this proposal, 13000 MW of additional hydropower capacity will be added to the existing 9000 MW of hydroelectric capacity by 2030, making up 25% of the total mix. The construction of the Diamer & Bhasha dam will also add to the total energy generation capacity of the country. However, it is a time taking process and will be beneficial in the long run.
The average daily sunlight in Pakistan is nine and a half hours. After the government implemented a set of support policies to encourage the development of renewable energy, Solar Power entered Pakistan’s energy mix in 2013. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, six solar power facilities with a combined capacity of 430 MW started operating commercially over the past five years and are presently supplying electricity to the grid. More businesses and industries in Pakistan are resorting to captive solar solutions as a result of increased electricity prices and an unstable grid supply. Larger cities have seen a sharp increase in the household installation of rooftop solar panels. Regulations for Net Metering for projects smaller than 1 MW went into force in September 2015. The GOP is aiming for at least 1 million subscribers and adding about 3000 MW of solar power through net metering, therefore this industry is headed toward rapid expansion soon.
The World Bank has provided Sindh Solar Energy Project with $100 million in financing to help independent power producers develop 400 MW of new Solar Power Projects and provide partial grants to private sector companies for the commercial provision of Solar Home Systems to 200,000 households. This will increase renewable energy’s share of Pakistan’s energy mix.
Pakistan is an agricultural nation where the majority of its people (about 70%) reside in rural areas. As a result, biomass is widely available, especially from sources related to agriculture and livestock, such as leftover agricultural material and animal manure. These wastes total 50,000 metric tonnes per day of solid garbage, 225,000 metric tonnes per day of agricultural waste, and roughly 1 million metric tonnes per day of manure. The majority of people are powered by utilizing conventional methods to meet their energy needs in these distant places because there is little access to grid electricity and cutting-edge technologies. Bagasse, a byproduct of the sugar cane production process, can be utilized to generate electricity to run sugar mills.
The ability to produce sugarcane in Pakistan, which is the fifth-largest nation in the world, is approximately 87,240,100 million tonnes. 1800 MW of electricity might be produced from sugarcane bagasse, according to AEDB and NREL in the USA. In light of the current energy situation, the government has granted permission to sugar mill owners to sell any excess electricity to the national grid station up to a maximum of 700 MW. Urban areas also generate a lot of municipal garbage, which might be digested to make biogas, which can then be used to generate green power, heat, or fuel vehicles. The digested substrate, also known as digestate, can also be utilized as fertilizer in agricultural fields.
What Needs To Be Done?
All nations’ socioeconomic progress depends on energy. The world’s principal energy supply, which relies on conventional sources, is steadily shifting to renewable resources. Pakistan is still developing plans for renewable energy projects. However, given Pakistan’s heavy reliance on finite fossil fuel resources and the current gap between power demand and production, which is roughly 5000–8000 MW with an annual increase of 8–10%, renewable alternatives that can financially support conventional energy options must soon be operating at full capacity.
Distribution of Renewable Resources
Pakistan has a wealth of resources, including wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. This presents a tremendous opportunity to meet the nation’s current fuel needs. The distribution of this potential capacity among the several provinces is pretty even. Baluchistan is rich with solar potential in the west, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is rich with hydro potential in the northeast, and Sindh is endowed with wind potential in the south. As a result, the potential of renewable energy sources for power production, space and water heating, engine fuel, and stand-alone power systems can be investigated in four far-off places (SAPS).
Although numerous initiatives have been undertaken to overcome the obstacles that renewable energy technologies (RETs) confront, social, technological, economic, and informational barriers have prevented the progress from becoming fully practical. The main obstacles to the growth of renewable energy are these worries. Future energy for the nation should come from a well-balanced combination of all these sources in order to gradually reduce its reliance on foreign oil.
Given that there is significant potential for hydropower development in the nation and that the majority of feasibility studies have been completed, emphasis should be placed on its speedy and targeted development. Wind energy has already begun to supply the system with electricity in 2014. Due to several obstacles, such as a lack of infrastructure (such as a strong road network or massive cranes) and insufficient grid interconnection capabilities, it is still difficult. The provision of these amenities must therefore be prioritized in order to address these issues. The advancement of affordable and user-friendly solar cookers, water heaters, and dryers is necessary since an instantaneous integration strategy can have a significant impact on Pakistan’s overall energy demand. Policies for the purchase of small-scale renewable energy systems via a public lending program should be developed. In order to attract the attention of domestic and international investors to renewable energy investments, security, law, and order issues in the nation must be addressed on a priority basis.
Public awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of green energy must be raised by regular public demonstrations and government campaigns, which will increase public acceptance of those facilities. Additionally, it is necessary to conduct specific feasibility studies for the development of a large-scale grid-connected to solar thermal power plants. To build support for recognizing renewables as energy sources in Pakistan, the renewable energy curriculum must be implemented in educational settings from the basic to the university levels. Sending graduate students to overseas institutions will help them learn more about cutting-edge renewable energy technologies.
By 2030, it is anticipated that Pakistan’s energy needs could rise to 11,000 MW. Therefore, a more comprehensive strategy that addresses all of the aforementioned problems is essential to maximizing the potential of renewable energy and ensuring the nation’s long-term energy security. A combined effort by the public and the private sector is the key to energy independence.