Tuesday March 21, 2023

How to conserve energy

By Editorial Board
January 05, 2023

The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan announced on Dec 3 is a welcome move but still leaves much to desire. Under the new policy the operational hours of markets and wedding halls have been curtailed and that should save some energy – at least the government expects so. The government has also banned the use of inefficient appliances that would save the country around Rs62 billion annually. This plan is not bad if properly implemented with traders and businesses on board. It is important that Pakistanis realize we need a lifestyle change so that not only do we conserve energy but also improve our lifestyles. But for this, the government also needs to bring in complete energy reforms, including encouraging clean and renewable energy policy, which should not be just on paper and is actually easy and smooth for the general public.

The real problem behind all this rigmarole is the government’s inability to reduce circular debt in the energy sector. The circular debt has now reached a whopping level of Rs2.43 trillion and that is the real issue to tackle. The government also needs to look into expanding the distribution and transmission of energy, making sure that line losses are managed, and electricity theft is controlled. When the budget was unveiled last year, many economic experts had pointed out that due to the global energy crisis, Pakistan will have to take strict measures in order to conserve energy such as closing down markets early, use more daylight timing to work and also allow more work from home to save fuel consumption. Initially, PM Shehbaz Sharif took the bad decision of increasing one day of work at a time when our import bill was high and we needed to conserve energy and fuel. The decision was finally reversed. Before announcing new policies, the government should do proper homework about this, consult industries and the private sector. Electricity consumption has to be reduced not because we cannot generate enough electricity but because we don’t have enough money to buy fuel to generate it.

Pakistan’s economic situation is facing a crisis that cannot be resolved overnight. It will need a lot of planning and execution. It is also important that due to the global energy and economic crises, Pakistan also adopts measures to manage energy as well as our economy. With the IMF’s strict conditions, the price of electricity, gas and petroleum prices will increase and it will be difficult for people to manage it with such high inflation. After last year’s devastating floods, the impact of climate change is for the world to see. Pakistan needs to take measures that will be climate-friendly and one of the most important ones is to make clean and green renewable energy use common across the country. More efficient energy planning will also help reduce the burden of circular debt on the economy. All new housing societies must use alternative and renewable sources of energy such as solar plants and wind energy wherever possible. Whenever a new housing scheme takes off, just like other infrastructure such as roads, water, and sanitation, it must also have an energy plan with mandatory solar panel installations. The same applies to streetlights which must use solar panels rather than grid electricity. The red tape surrounding the solar policy has been highlighted by many consumers. If the solar policy is normalized, it will not just benefit consumers but also the country’s climate change policy. This is a national emergency and all provincial governments must come together to develop a consensus in this matter. This is no time to play games of political point scoring. This is also an emergency, an energy emergency.