Monday July 15, 2024

Experts discuss prospects of renewable energy generation

By Our Correspondent
July 18, 2021

LAHORE : Experts discussed the prospects of grid integration and locational study conducted by for energy sector of Pakistan, and major challenges for revised version of Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2030.

During a webinar held by the World Bank, Oliver Knight, senior energy specialist, the World Bank, provided insights on studies conducted by the World Bank on “Variable Renewable Energy Integration and Planning” and “Variable Renewable Energy Locational Study.”

Based on the outputs of both reports, Mr Oliver mentioned that the most optimum capacity expansion pathway for Pakistan was through increased expansion of solar and wind capacity as it would decrease the utilisation of the existing generation facilities which were no longer competitive. He stated that VRE could lead to a more diversified energy generation throughout the country and at the least cost basis. While mentioning the hydro and VRE complements, however, he said, the role of hydro was critical and its role in future would become more flexible.

Based on VRE locational study, Mr Oliver highlighted that even based on the existing grid infrastructure, Pakistan had the ability to reach its targets of achieving 20 per cent VRE by 2025. Achieving targets of 30 per cent RE by 2030 would require some investments in transmission capacity of Balochistan.

Shahbaz Ahmad, manager of Power System Planning, National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), while providing details on the revised version of Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion plan (IGCEP) 2030, said the targets of achieving share of 30 per cent renewables by 2030 would be achieved by including hydro power in the renewable energy resources. He also highlighted that although the expansion plan was carried out using PLEXOS software on a least cost basis, the reason the targets of the Alternate and Renewable Energy Policy could not be achieve was the committed projects which limited the cushion for renewable energy.

He also mentioned that there were policy statements which National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) must follow.

Syed Aqeel Hussain Jafri, director policy, Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB), said while the policy targets dictated an increasing share of RE in energy mix, any development had to be based on the outputs of IGCEP once it was approved. He highlighted financial methods, especially the cost plus model. He stated that Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB) in the past four years had not initiated any project on a cost plus basis. While appreciating the efforts of NTDC for developing the IGCEP, he said it was the first document which would be a continuous project, however, he proposed that the revision of IGCEP should be carried out after every two years to incorporate the decreasing cost of technologies.

Amin Lakhani, director, Clean Energy Projects on the USAID funded Sustainable Energy for Pakistan (SEP) project, provided his in-depth analysis as to why the revised version of IGCEP had a low share for RE and what could be the way forward. He said 88 per cent of capacity expansion in the plan was due to committed projects and NTDC should have provided details for an unconstrained scenario. He also mentioned the risks associated with hydro cost and time overruns for hydro power plants. While building his views around IGCEP, Mr Lakhani provided some concrete policy recommendations which should be followed in the revised version. His recommendations include revising the definitions of committed projects to those that have achieved financial closure, reducing the entry size of mega projects to facilitate the least cost optimisation, and using the RLNG price as the fuel cost for all natural gas plants.

Zeeshan Ashfaq, member, Pakistan Renewable Energy Coalition, said RE sources were location sensitive and that Pakistan must learn from best practices across the world. Pakistan needs to look for hybrid solutions where the government should define the appropriate areas. Pakistan should move towards a second market rather than just focusing on the cost portion of the resource. Further, Pakistan also needs to look for the socio-economic impacts of different sources that are being added, he said.

Simon Nicholas, energy finance analyst, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), provided in-depth details of the South Australian energy market. Being very similar to the energy market of Pakistan, this region has depicted a rapidly increasing share of renewable energy. The region is expected to reach its targeted goals even before the deadline. Simon mentioned that in South Australia, around 40 percent of houses had rooftop solar which fulfilled 13 per cent of the total grid demand. Simon mentioned that the critique on RE for not being able to fulfil base load conditions was outdated and did not provide a challenge to any country especially since the cost of battery was constantly falling. He said South Australia did not have a major support from the federal government policies, yet the region was able to achieve the targets through support of just state government.

Naila Saleh, energy economist, Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI), highlighted the role of distributed generation in the clean energy transition of Pakistan. She mentioned that in the VRE transition debate, the distribution system did not receive the attention it deserved. Twenty-five per cent of the population of Pakistan is without access to electricity. There are high technical and non-technical losses and people are being affected by power outages on a daily basis. Ms Saleh also mentioned that IGCEP had largely overlooked this factor while Pakistan had witnessed an unfair geographic distributed generation uptake.

Dr Hina Aslam, research fellow, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), provided key takeaways of the webinar that was moderated by Ms Haneea Isaad, research associate, Rural Development Policy Institute, and Mustafa Amjad, World Wind Energy Association.