ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed authorities concerned for robust renewable energy management to cut the country’s $27 billion oil import bill and improve the country’s existing electricity distribution system.

“Ultimately, we have to move to renewable energy. The oil import worth billions of dollars can be controlled by using alternative resources like solar, wind and hydel. Make cold calculations and I believe, you will be the winner in the long term,” the prime minister said while addressing a meeting held to review the power sector’s performance.

The prime minister said utilising renewable energy resources would also ensure riddance from the crude oil tanker mafia acting as parasites and eating up the national money.

He pointed out that the country currently imports oil worth $27 billion to meet its power and transportation needs, a figure that could be significantly reduced by transitioning to alternative energy sources.

Punjab govt’s drive against power theft lauded

Talking about the ongoing drive against power theft, he lauded the performance of the Punjab government and expressed the hope that other provinces would also follow suit to overcome the challenge.

The prime minister said: “Streng­thening the country’s power transmission system requires utmost efforts and investment otherwise the power production and investments in the sector would go down the drain unless the flaws in the transmission network are removed.”

He asked the energy ministry to engage world-class consultants to suggest ways forward to the government to boost up the country’s power transmission system.

In a separate meeting, the prime minister directed officials concerned to take drastic measures including shifting of imported coal-run plants, improvement in power supply system, setting up cost effective and renewable energy plants and functioning of solar projects to reduce cost of electricity per unit thus benefiting the ordinary people.

Shift to local coal He directed for shifting of the imported coal-run power plants to local coal besides improving the power supply system.

“In future, only clean, cost effective and renewable power plants should be set up in the country,” the prime minister said.

The meeting was apprised of 600MW solar power project and the prime minister directed for expediting work on the foreign investment in this regard.

The prime minister directed that the auction process of those power plants of Power Generation Companies (Gencos) that were lying dysfunctional and defective should be accelerated.

The meeting was briefed about the existing power generation capability, supply system and the government’s steps and proposals.

The meeting was also apprised of the future power demand and supply in the country.

The meeting was informed that by shifting the coal-run power plants from imported fuel to local coal would not only save precious foreign exchange but would also make it possible to reduce power price by Rs2 per unit for consumers.

The prime minister directed for swift implementation of all measures within the stipulated timeframe.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2024

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