Solar illumination of Balochistan

FINANCE Minister Ishaq Dar has said that he has discussed a proposal with World Bank to illuminate entire Balochistan province with solar energy and bank’s response was positive. The Minister said he raised the matter during his meeting with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and invited him to visit Balochistan to see for himself potential for solar power generation.
Area-wise Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and with sparse population, it is next to impossible for energy-deficient country like Pakistan to take basic facility of electricity to each and every house in the province. Balochistan needs about 1700 MW of electricity but it is currently getting around 700 MW due to power shortages and constraints of transmission line capacity. Even if we have enough electricity to meet requirements of entire Pakistan and Balochistan gets its share of electricity the problem would remain there as distribution system would cost hugely due to topography of the region. In this backdrop, one must appreciate government for its right approach to address this fundamental problem of the people of the province. Experts say solar energy is most reliable and abundantly available renewable source. The province has an average daily global insulation of 19 to 20 million joules/m2 a day with an annual mean sunshine duration of 8- 8.5 hours. These values are among the highest in the world and make Balochistan ideal for solar power generation. Alternative Energy Development Board has a plan to bring solar energy technologies to electrify remote villages of the province but actual work could not begin for years due to lack of funding. Now that World Bank has shown interest in providing assistance for the purpose, we hope authorities concerned would translate their plans into reality at the earliest, as it would help accelerate pace of socio-economic development in backward areas.

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