KARACHI: Highlighting several bottlenecks hampering growth of the solar industry, speakers at a webinar organised on Thursday demanded a favourable tax regime and supportive government policies to help the country become self-reliant and independent in the energy sector with least harm to environment.

They also urged the government to make registration with the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) simpler to attract more investment in the solar sector.

The event was organised by magazine Energy Update.

“Pakistan has the potential to generate two million megawatts of solar power but far less clean energy is currently being produced in the country,” said energy expert Irfan Ahmed, adding that resolution of taxation issues would automatically lead to indigenous production of solar equipment.

He also underscored the need for standardising solar products and promoting technological interventions — such as solar home systems and micro-grids — which could go a long way in promoting the use of solar power in the country.

Participating in the discussion, chairman of the PM’s task force on housing Zaigham Rizvi said the government would consider utilising solar power to energise upcoming residential units in the country.

“The industry should make efforts to make international-level certifications available in the local market for authentication of its services,” he suggested, adding that promotion of the solar industry would not only help the government improve environment but also cut down its fuel import bill.

Mohammad Farhan, the chairman of Pakistan Solar Association, spoke about the steps the body had taken to launch net-metering system in the country, assuring participants that the association would take up taxation issues with government officials.

Waqas Mughal representing Renewable Power complained about lack of uniformity in the taxation regime in different provinces for solar companies.

He regretted that there was no tax on importing solar cables, but one had to pay tax if the same product was purchased from the local market.

“It’s unfortunate that Pakistan has no clear-cut policy on the import of lithium-ion batteries that are otherwise widely used all over the world for better storage of wind and solar power,” he noted.

Waseem Sheikh representing IPS Solar said companies had to go through a complicated procedure for registration with AEDB.

He stressed the need for making taxation and regulatory regimes viable as being implemented in the developed countries like Germany and Australia where government’s policies helped utilise the maximum potential of renewable energy.

He regretted lack of knowledge about the benefits of solar energy use in Pakistan.

Chairman of FPCCI’s standing committee on energy Saad Shaikh also spoke.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2021

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