KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to solarise 200,000 housing units in rural and urban areas across the province with the support of the World Bank, it emerged on Thursday.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh and a delegation of the World Bank headed by its director Najy Benhassine at the energy department.

Mr Shaikh told Dawn that the panels would be installed in all districts of the province under the Sindh Solar Project.

“Over 200,000 houses/units will be solarised in both rural and urban areas of all districts as part of the provincial government’s major initiative to end the energy crisis,” he said.

The minister said that it was also decided that a subsidy of $160 per house/unit in rural areas and $110 in urban areas would be given.

Says project to be executed with World Bank funding will cover all districts of Sindh

“Initially. solar panels are being installed in 10 districts and the process will be extended to all other districts of Sindh,” he said.

The minister said the World Band delegation expressed its satisfaction over the pace of ongoing projects in the province’s energy sector.

He said the importance of generating green environment-friendly energy was increasing rapidly in view of climate-change impacts.

There were many opportunities for blue economy in this sector, he said. “The speed of wind in the sea is many times better than on land, so wind turbines can be installed on the sea and beaches to generate cheaper electricity,” he said.

Imtiaz Shaikh said that an economic zone could be established in coastal area, which would be an important milestone in the development of the coastal area. “The energy department will cooperate in developing offshore wind projects near coastal areas,” he said, and added that floating solar energy units would be created for economic development of the country.

He said that the energy department wanted to work with the Pakistan Institute of Oceanography to develop floating solar projects in coastal areas.

“Floating solar systems and offshore wind projects can expand blue economy opportunities through affordable energy,” he added.

The minister said that land for water-based green energy projects was several times cheaper and unlike most land-based solar plants there, floating arrays could be stationary.

To a question, he said that the provincial government had also decided to restructure the proposed Sindh Petroleum Company which would work for gas exploration.

He said that the SPC would give licences for gas and petrol exploration in the province, adding that a draft of recommendations regarding activation of the SPC and its rules and regulations had been prepared.

He said that the SPC along with the search for new gas reserves would also monitor the distribution of existing gas reserves.

Imtiaz Shaikh demanded a new natural resources agreement between the federation and the provinces and said that the new gas distribution agreement would help curb the sense of deprivation found in the provinces.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2023

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