ISLAMABAD, June 24: Pakistan is joining a new World Bank programme which would carry out mapping of renewable energy resources, producing for the first time rich and nationwide data for the country.
The government has requested the support of the World Bank and the Renewable Energy Resource Mapping Initiative of Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) to help improve the country’s knowledge and awareness of solar, wind and biomass energy resources.
According to the World Bank, the project, approved last month, would be launched in the second half of 2013 and would focus on resource mapping and spatial planning, including ground-based data collection, data analysis, GIS mapping, strategic environmental assessment, and policy integration.
Pakistan has developed a comprehensive policy framework for development of renewable energy. The World Bank initiative would cover mapping of solar, wind, biomass, and small hydropower potential.
For solar and wind resource mapping components, the project team plans to commission ground-based data through installation of wind masts and pyrometers at strategic locations around the country.
This would build on the wind measurements that Pakistan already has, mainly in the very south of the country; however, high quality solar data is scarce.
The commissioned data would then be combined with satellite and other data to produce validated resource atlases for the whole country.
The field-based biomass resource mapping would be limited to the Punjab.
This component will assess quality and quantity of available biomass and agricultural waste and study the most appropriate and competitive technologies to utilise available biomass for energy production.
Besides Pakistan, eight other countries would also participate in the programme, including Indonesia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia.
The World Bank has allocated a four-year budget of $11.6 million for the programme. Including Pakistan in the programme, the World Bank estimates that the country encapsulates the renewable energy challenges faced by many developing and emerging countries.
Despite abundant renewable resources – including solar, wind, hydropower and biomass – very little of this potential has been utilised.
At the same time, about a third of the country’s people do not have access to electricity, World Bank report says.
Commenting on the potential of renewable sources of energy in Pakistan, the World Bank report says though Pakistan has ambitious plans for solar and wind projects, and has developed a comprehensive policy framework, projects on the ground remain few and far between.
“One major reason is a lack of credible resource data,” says Arif Alauddin, a former head of the Alternative Energy Development Board, and now managing director of National Energy Conservation Centre.
Mr Alauddin said: “There is a need to shift to domestic renewable energy resources as the country’s energy shortage is unprecedented, tariffs are going up, and petroleum products are eating up a large share of export earnings.”
While high-level solar and wind maps are widely available, these do not contain the granular data required by the government to understand the country’s full resource potential and needed by the private sector to identify specific sites for development, World Bank report points out.