Govt’s clear direction a must for just & holistic renewable energy transition: Experts

ISLAMABAD: Experts at a roundtable opined that amid growing inflation and energy demands, the government needs to ensure its course correction and clear direction as an imperative to achieve a just and holistic renewable energy transition.
The roundtable titled, “Stocktaking Pakistan’s Renewable Energy Progress 2024: Opportunities and Challenges”, was jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Pakistan Renewable Energy Coalition here on Thursday on the occasion of International Day of Clean Energy.
In his opening remarks, Dr Khalid Waleed, SDPI Research Fellow, said the past three years were challenging for Pakistan in particular and the world in general in terms of poly crisis, post-COVID spiking, inflation and Ukraine-Russia war. Amid all these pressing challenges, the developing countries like Pakistan need to align their policy discourse in line with their nationally determined contributions, he added.
Dr Waleed suggested that since the world has pledged to phase out of fossil fuels, we need to narrow down the global trends to Pakistan level where the system and prevailing mechanisms are not supportive but capacity should be utilized to transform this system.
The country needs an autonomous regulator, digitized transmission, and corporate governance model for power sector management, he said and proposed that “let the market run freely with policy consistency that will garner more investors in the power sector.”
Syed Aqeel Hussain Jaafri, Director Policy, Private Power and Infrastructure Board, said market liberalization can pave the way for a flourishing market and encourage investors at the local and foreign levels. He added that the financing constraints in the prevailing market situation made many ambitious power projects nonviable. However, wind farms are facing curtailment at the moment due to lack of infrastructure to transfer power generated from south to north, he noted.
Ahtasam Ahmad from Renewables First Pakistan said it is crucial to seriously consider the Renewable Energy (RE) integration that had limited roll out in the country. In order to achieve just energy transition, it is necessary to promote innovative instruments that have the potential to mobilize additional funds like philanthropic public private partnership (PPPP), institutional investor system, project aggregation and scrutinization, concession loans, debt swaps, alternative to sovereign guarantees, investment bonds, etc.
Tanveer Mirza, from UEP Wind Power, was of the view that it is not the issue of finance but, its the socioeconomic policies that need to be improved in such a way that attract the international investors. “We need to shift focus on transmission and distribution network improvement instead of power generation, whereas a real time analysis of IPPs is also important to gauge their power production status and identify which one of those are stagnant or working,” he maintained.
Faheem Ashraf from Solar Energy said energy is not the issue rather the power transmission system is the bone of contention. “We can have PPA models and 7- to 10-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) models like a 500KV to 1MW project should target all educational institutions and hospitals across the country,” he added.
Mustafa Amjad, Program Manager of Renewables First, said the problem is that the country is not creating an easy market but an easy money sector in terms of RE, whereas the response to it faced a decline from the boom in the sector after 2015.
Badar Alam, CEO PRIED, said that the government and the state sector should be the enabler for the whole society with an inclusive approach. He called upon the government to invest in ambitious projects instead of detrimental schemes that add more to the miseries of the local communities.
Zeenia Shaukar from the Knowledge Forum said the urban household possessed the bigger consumers that lack places to install RE solutions whereas renewables were not the part of urban development.
Zainab Naeem from SDPI said the discourse should be solution-oriented and not challenge centric as the discussion should start with an optimistic note as energy sector has critical role in driving economies, and global relations.

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