Focus on green energy
By: Mohiuddin Aazim
agriculture sector is set to benefit immensely from the use
of green energy as a slew of solar, wind and biomass power
projects are coming up.
Promising improved farm
production and cost efficiency.
including development of 100MW solar power station in Punjab
and establishment of wind power corridor in Sindh are in
And, in order to provide a
national perspective to these efforts, a renewable energy
mapping programme has also begun with the World Bankís
The $22.5m five-year Energy
Sector Management Assistance Programme will measure
Pakistanís potential for solar, wind and biomass energy,
using ground-based data collection, GIS analysis and
Under this programme, a
high-precision solar measuring station is being set up at
the site of 100MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar park near Bahawalpur,
The Chinese company involved in the construction of this
solar park has brought in 100MW PV modules, the installation
of which is underway, and power generation is expected to
begin within a few months.
Officials, involved with the project, say once 100MW of
electricity is obtained from this $131m project, the output
can be raised ten-folds within a few years.
They say that power produced
here will help reduce energy woes of not only households but
of crop growers and livestock breeders as well.
In addition to this, the Punjab government plans to set up
49 separate smaller solar power plants across the province,
of 1-50MW each, with a projected cumulative capacity of
Relevant officials of the
provincial government say project sites have already been
The Sindh government says
more than 40 companies are pursuing wind power projects of a
combined capacity of 3,000MW in the province.
In Sindh, two private
companies HydroChina and Dawood Power are working on $130m
joint venture of 50MW wind power project near Gharo.
The provincial government has
already allocated 1720 acres of land for this project which
is scheduled to begin power production from July 2016.
Another 50MW wind power
project of China, by the Three Gorges Company, has already
Officials of the Sindh government say that more than 40
companies are pursuing wind power projects of a combined
capacity of 3000MW in the province adding that every year a
few 100MWs of wind power is expected to be added to the
Apart from these, large-scale solar and wind power projects
in Punjab and Sindh which are sure to provide energy relief
to the surrounding rural population and agriculture due to
project locations, the use of solar-powered tube-wells is
growing in all four provinces.
All the four provincial governments are either subsidising
solar-power tube-wells or facilitating private sectorís
investment in installation of solar power panels on farms.
The federal government has recently exempted import duty on
solar power panels which is sure to give further impetus to
the use of green energy across Pakistan.
In addition to solar and wind
power, bagasse-fired electricity generation by sugar mills
has also increased over the past few years.
According to Nepra, bagasse-fired
power projects were selling no less than 120MW of
electricity to the national grid by the end of last fiscal
year, after meeting the energy requirements of the sugar
mills that own them.
Recently more than half a
dozen sugar mills have applied for licences to produce
electricity using bagasse as a fuel.
Nepra officials say sales of
electricity produced by bagasse-fired projects will increase
substantially by the end of the current fiscal year.
Though the policy focus on generation of green energy has
increased in recent years accelerating execution of projects
in this area, two things still need more attention.
First, the government has not
been able to promote small scale local manufacturing of
solar panels and wind turbines. Second, very little has been
done to exploit sources of biomass energy except for bagasse.
While announcing its recent decision of making solar panel
imports duty-free, the government explained that it wonít
hurt the local business as organised solar panel
manufacturing has not yet begun in Pakistan.
Businessmen say small scale solar panel production could
have begun years ago, had the government prioritised it
instead of focusing on development of solar power parks with
They also point out that, whereas licences for setting up
wind power projects are being issued with speed, there is no
move in sight to promote local manufacturing of wind
Similarly, while a legal and
operational framework has been put in place for bagasse-fired
power projects, nothing of the sort has been done to promote
biomass energy production from cheap sources like cow dung,
food waste and agricultural residues like, rice husk and
cotton gin trash.
Sizeable local investment in green energy can be attracted
if legal and operational frameworks are introduced for these
and other possible sources of power production.
This will help localised
power production at small scale within the vicinity where
raw materials are available in abundance, thus cutting the
cost of transmission and distribution from a certain point
to other places.
According to campus reports, some young NED engineers,
toying with the idea of running small power generators with
wind energy left abroad a couple of years ago, after they
had failed to generate funds to manufacture
specially-designed small wind turbines.
It is imperative that such
innovative projects that hold promise for use of newly
developed technology in agriculture and other sectors in
future are supported by the government and the private