PAKISTAN is currently faced with a severe power crisis, which must be dealt with on a priority basis. However, we must go for long-term and sustainable solutions if we want to address this problem once and for all.
In this regard, nothing is better than renewable or clean energy, which comes from natural resources like sunlight, wind, rain, etc. As the world transitions towards clean energy, it is perhaps the best time for Pakistan to gradually make the shift to these power-generation resources as it would result in reduced carbon emissions. A case in point is the upcoming football World Cup in Qatar later this year, which is set to be the first-ever carbon-neutral global tournament in the football world.
The tournament is expected to be powered mainly by solar energy, with the country currently developing an 800-megawatt solar energy plant near Doha on a 10-square-kilometre plot.
In stark contrast, we are still hanging on to costly furnace oil plants, which strain the government’s finances and have adverse environmental impacts.
The government should explore more energy production avenues, such as wind power projects in coastal areas like Port Qasim, and solar energy projects in areas like Thar. Besides, going for tidal energy and geothermal heat would help reduce unending loadshedding in cities like Karachi, where citizens and industries continue to suffer at the hands of the city’s lone power utility.
Another critical area to focus on is dams, whether big or small, as our survival depends on them. We must not forget that Tarbela Dam, one of the country’s largest water reservoirs, has lost almost half of its capacity, and Mangla will be the only functional dam left in the coming years.
Having said that, we do not need to make a radical shift to clean energy and can use coal-fired plants for the time being. However, such plants should be set up on a small scale in desert areas.
To sum up, inexpensive and clean energy is the need of the hour. Without it, the country will continue to feel the pain of having a weak energy sector, which means that ensuring sustainable economic growth will remain a pretty distant dream.
M. Humza Naeem
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022