Solarisation project in the South Waziristan

ZEENAT BIBI

Aneeta Mahsud, a member of the provincial Assembly of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, has recently completed a project on the solarisation of worship places in South Waziristan, a tribal district of northwestern Pakistan.

She converted dozens of mosques to green energy through solarisation in her project. She belongs to a tribal region of south Waziristan, where one can only imagine the existence of electricity. She said that electricity bills are very high, and the locals of her constituency cannot afford the electricity tariff.

She also added that the solarisation of worship places and schools is an initiative of the PTI-led government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, under which 8000 Schools/Mosques & 187 Health Facilities are shifted to green energy.

“The main objective of the project is to develop economic power and to provide reliable and consistent power to schools and health facilities, especially those deprived of electricity,” She added. She furthered that her government has also implemented 356 Mini & Micro Hydro Power Projects in 2014/15 across the province through its Energy & Power department funding.

To avail 32.5MW, 11 of the province’s northern districts were selected to establish 332 mini hydropower projects, out of which 328 have already been completed and operational. These MHPs provide low-cost, locally managed, and environment-friendly electricity and avoid ecological damage and Greenhouse effects.

The former PM Aide on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, has said that Pakistan has abandoned a 2,400 MW coal power project under the CPEC and shifted to a 3,700 MW hydropower project. Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail, while giving details of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Qatar, has expressed that “Qatar will invest in solar plants having a capacity of 8,000 MW to reduce the electricity price in Pakistan.” This is indeed a good move towards green energy if materialized.

Pakistan is one of the overpopulated countries in the South Asian region, adding approximately 2.56 % of the total global population. Due to its strategic location, the country is supposed to soon serve as an international trade and energy corridor. Still, it has yet to announce a net-zero year as did its counterpart India and environment-friendly Nepal.

According to Pakistan Economic Survey, In 2019, the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy was introduced to assist and promote the development of renewable resources in the country. The main objective of the policy was to provide a supportive environment for renewable power projects and increase the share of green energy capacity to 20 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030 by attracting private capital around green energy.

Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to the former premier on climate change, while expressing his views on net-zero targets at COP26, has told the media that Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is ambitious in the short term, committing to cut 50% of projected emissions and achieve 60% renewable energy by 2030. However, Sheraz Nisar, the Renewable energy expert, termed this claim impractical and questioned its feasibility and implementation because of its conditionality to international financing.

“We have shifted the Gawadar 100 MW coal project to clean fuel. We are going to make CPEC a green economic corridor. The former aide added that we are investing in protected areas and have signed an MOU with China on Billion Tree Tsunami,” the former aide added.

After the regime change, the newly emerged coalition government started acting on climate change to respond to climate crises.

On the other hand, due to price hikes in petroleum products, a decline in Petrol and diesel have been recorded. The country’s consumption of two essential petroleum products, Petroleum Motor Gasoline (PMG) or petrol and HSD(High-Speed Diesel), has declined by 21 percent and 44 percent, respectively, due to measures taken by the government to curtail imports and a massive increase in their prices by the incumbent government.

On July 21, 2022, addressing a presser Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr. Musadik Malik, claimed

That petrol sale in June 2021 was recorded at 778,000 MT, which was reduced to 704,000 MT in June 2022, showing a reduction in the use of petrol. Similarly, HSD sale was 789,000 MT in June 2021, which declined to 712,000 MT in June 2022. The country’s import bill has reduced substantially due to a reduction in the consumption of petrol and diesel.

According to express tribune, the government is planning to start solar power projects of about 14,000 megawatts in 2022 as a substitute energy source for the expensive electricity being produced using imported fuel. The government of Pakistan started an initiative that includes low prices for solar systems, including tax incentives.

Chairing a meeting to review measures for promoting solar energy in Pakistan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave directions for prioritizing the province Balochistan in providing solar systems. He also stressed that solarization would help minimize the fuel import cost. He added

“The people will be provided with solar systems as an alternative to the costly electricity being generated using the imported fuel. The solarization would reduce the import bill of costly fuel and help generate low-cost and environment-friendly electricity”. The Prime Minister of Pakistan directed the authorities concerned to carry out comprehensive planning for the early execution of the solar projects.

According to the report published by Peshawar Clean Air Alliance (PCAA), Poor air quality in the region has a varying degree of health impact on the population. The Air-Quality Life Index (AQLI) estimates that citizens of Peshawar can add up to 2.3 years to their life expectancy if PM2.5 levels meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Turning this estimate around, this also means that currently, they are losing these years because of high levels of air pollution as Peshawar remains the country’s top air-polluted city. Similarly, Lahore and other big cities of the country have been placed on the list of most air-polluted cities.

To cope with air pollution across the country and province, Green Transport projects like Metro, Green Bus, orange train, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) were launched to reduce vehicular emissions, contributing to 58% of the air pollution. According to the spokesperson of BRT, Sadaf Kamil, more than 350 old and outdated public transport vehicles running on BRT routes were scrapped due to heavy carbon emissions.

Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr. Musadik Malik, said that the sale of PMG was 818,000 MT in July 2021 which has dropped to 580,000 MT in July 2022, roughly 30 percent. In contrast, the sale of HSD has reduced by 45-50 percent from 730,000 MT in July 2021, which is now approximately 400,000 MT. “The government has managed things, so that import bill is reduced without affecting the stocks of petroleum products,” he added. POL import was $ 1.4 billion in June 2022, significantly less than the pattern set in the previous s four or five months.

 

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