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Solar clean energy conference: Sepra to be set up before govt tenure ends, says minister

By Our Correspondent
July 20, 2023

KARACHI: The present Sindh government has planned to formally establish the provincial power sector regulator in the remaining part of its tenure lasting until next month to facilitate the maximum production of renewable electricity in the province in the best interest of the power consumers.

Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh said this while speaking as the chief guest at the 3rd International Solar Clean Energy Conference organised by the Energy Update at a hotel in collaboration with his energy department and the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB).

Shaikh told the audience at the conference that Sindh had the required infrastructure and policy frameworks in place to ensure the maximum utilisation of clean energy sources.The minister said that the only missing mechanism for the fast execution of clean energy projects was the availability of Sindh’s own power sector regulator.

He informed the audience that the landmark bill for setting up the Sindh Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Sepra) had already been passed, while efforts are under way to ensure that the proposed regulator is formally established and starts functioning before the end of the current tenure of the provincial government.

He said Sindh had already adopted the policies for setting up hybrid power generation projects involving both solar and wind energy, and B2B (business-to-business) power projects involving private sector companies.

He also said that maximum reliance on alternative energy sources was the only way out to provide due relief to the power consumers in Sindh facing a grave electricity crisis every summer.

The energy minister informed the audience that under the drive of the Sindh government to promote the usage of clean energy sources, solar systems had been installed at 233 basic health units and 73 public sector hospitals.

Similarly, he pointed out, solar panels would be installed at 40 large public sector buildings in the province, including government offices, the provincial assembly and jails.

He told the audience that the Sindh government would fully support any plan to set up manufacturing units for indigenous production of solar panels for saving precious foreign exchange that is otherwise spent on importing renewable energy equipment.

He invited prospective foreign and local investors to massively invest in the energy sector of Sindh having a massive potential to fulfil the electricity needs of the entire country through both conventional and renewable power sources.

Speaking as the guest of honour, United Arab Emirates Consul General Bakheet Ateeq Al Romaithi said the UAE would fully support the development of renewable energy projects in Pakistan in line with its assistance for improving health, educational facilities and infrastructure projects in the country.

Al Romaithi also pointed out on the occasion that students in Pakistan should be properly educated about the importance of renewable energy in their lives.

He said that given the deep friendly ties between the two brotherly Islamic countries, Pakistan should fully take advantage of the upcoming COP28 to be held in Dubai for actively seeking international assistance for projects aimed at reversing the devastating phenomenon of climate change.

The CG assured the utmost assistance by the UAE for all the efforts in Pakistan to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to every resident at the most affordable rates.

AEDB Director (Solar) Naeem Memon said that the solar power option had massive potential to generate an abundance of clean electricity in the country at the cheapest rates for the concerned power consumers. He lamented that solar energy resources, despite being one of the cheapest power production sources in the country, had the least contribution to the national energy mix.

Sindh Solar Energy Project Director Mehfooz Qazi told the audience about the World Bank-funded drive of the provincial government to build utility-scale solar energy projects and install solar panels on the roofs of public sector buildings.

He said that the provincial government would soon complete the project of energising 200,000 off-grid rural homes using the option of solar power.

Energy expert Irfan Ahmed lamented that even though Pakistan had the potential of producing 2,200 gigawatts of clean electricity using solar power, this renewable energy source was merely producing a gigawatt of electricity in the country.

Prof Dr Nasim A Khan, pioneer of the clean energy sector in Pakistan, said that given the massive potential of producing renewable energy, the wind and solar options should be treated as the main power generation sources instead of considering them alternative resources of producing electricity.

The Energy Update’s Naeem Qureshi said that the Solar Clean Energy Conference was being organised for the past three years to combine the efforts of the private sector, foreign donors and government organisations for enhancing clean energy production in Pakistan.

He said that the recommendations and deliberations of the conference would be shared with all the relevant state and government authorities for their swift adoption for massive growth in the solar energy sector in Pakistan.