Overcoming energy deficiency, govt top priority

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Salim Ahmed

Lahore—Provincial Minister for Mines and Mineral Ch. Sher Ali Khan has said that overcoming energy deficiency and increasing its production keeping in view the future needs has been the top priority of the present government. Academia should be taken on board for the conservation of energy creating awareness among the new generation regarding importance of energy. Punjab Government is all set to complete its various energy projects ahead of schedule in collaboration with Chinese and other foreign companies.
Ch. Sher Ali Khan said this in the inaugural speech at consultative meeting, highlighting the importance of sustainable energy and how it aligns with Punjab’s current energy goals and initiatives. He emphasized that a key to a sustainable future was sustainable energy. The meeting was held here today under the initiative “Sustainable Energy For All” organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Planning Commission of Pakistan and Energy Department Punjab.
The meeting discussed the future of sustainable energy within Pakistan and within the specific provinces that provide a blue print for the tailoring of a National Action Plan and Investment Prospectus. Participants included various stakeholders from the energy sector including focal persons from Punjab Energy Department. Panel of guests included Secretary Energy Punjab Asad Rehman Gilani, Chief Energy Planning Commission of Pakistan Abdul Hamid Balghari, UNDP representative Usman Manzur and UNDP Consultant Sardar Moazzam.
The participants discussed various issues and gave recommendations on “Sustainable Energy for All” as it is a global initiative under the Unites Nations as of 2011. Sustainable Energy For All aims to tackle goal 7 of the SDG’s through a three pronged approach: ensuring universal access, doubling the share of renewable and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. Pakistan is currently on its way to formulating its first National Action Plan and Investment Prospectus that will be the first of its kind that adopts a bottom up approach and attempts to address the health, food, energy and gender nexus.Secretary Energy, Asad Rehman Gilani spoke about Punjab’s current energy ventures particularly renewable energy.
Currently 100 MW Solar Power Plant have been installed in Bahwalpur, with private companies setting up 900 MW in the total 1000 MW solar power park, on a 6500-acre Government land. For Distributed solar projects 15,000 public schools have been solarized in off-grid and remote areas, 2,400 BHUs, 50 Public Building and offices and Solar Home Solutions under Ujala Scheme. Wind projects include a 1000 MW wind power project with Danish company and Taunsa Hydro Power Project with a capacity of 135 MW at the Taunsa barrage.
The participants said that Punjab is one of the most populated provinces with 68% of the generated power and gas being consumed by the province with a current 3,000 to 4,000 MW of electricity supply deficit the brunt of which is faced by small businesses in the province, with over 7,000 villages that are not connected to the grid.
The challenge at hand is to explore technology advancements that can replace use of biomass for cooking and heating particularly in the rural areas, and to pool resources into research and development sector to develop energy efficient equipment and technology that is both green and cost effective. Innovative business models must be developed that attract investment and reduce the risk attributed to investing in this sector.