The depleting world fossil fuel reserves, very high environmental pollution levels, and high import bills for fossil fuels are factors compelling enough to look for renewable energy resources utilization. SDPI’s Renewable Energy/Clean Fuels program seeks to provide constructive interventions in the framing and implementation of policies for adoption of renewable and environmentally clean energy resources, and hence to sustainable development. The program advocates that energy policies in Pakistan be reformulated and aimed at stretching the useful life of local resources through energy conservation and improving energy sector performance, managing energy demand and switching to cleaner and renewable alternatives. The program also places great stress on demonstrating the effectiveness of renewable technologies.
Renewable energy systems are expensive in terms of installation costs. The power from them is also available intermittently – when the renewable source (for instance, wind or solar energy) is available. On the other hand, they are free of any input fuel, and hence their ever rising costs. They also incur much less operation and maintenance costs and are supposed to have a longer lifetime. Thus, using renewable power looks uneconomical in the short term, but may turn out profitable in the long term. Therefore, the key question is what can make investment in renewable power generation acceptable? The Energy Group at SDPI is conducting research to find answers to this question through a financial analysis, which looks at the costs involved in setting up renewable power businesses in Pakistan and in identifying factors that can help attract investment in the renewable technologies. The research especially focuses on finding out the cost of renewable power generation and then on determining a suitable tariff that is acceptable both to the prospective investor and electricity purchasers in the country.
The Government of Pakistan is strongly emphasizing a wide use of the vast deposits of coal found in the desert of Thar. It is planning to provide incentives to independent power producers to set up production plants at the mine sites and to sell electricity to the national grid. It is also urging cement industries all over the country to use this coal. However, the coal, low quality lignite, is known to contain significant sulfur concentrations. Extensive use of this coal is, therefore, likely to substantially increase environmental degradation, particularly when used in cement plants situated near cities and towns. Any future use of the Thar coal demands schemes for removing pollutants, particularly sulfur, and reducing ash contents. There are several ways of doing this, one among them being the conversion of coal to Di-methyl ether (DME) or any other compound of higher energy content. The project will investigate the technology and economics of pre-combustion conversion of the Thar coal and will advise the government on the best use of it.
Liberalization and De/regulation of Power sector in Pakistan
Pakistan’s power sector was liberalized in mid 1990s. Since then WAPDA, the state utility has seen an increase in its losses and has gone bankrupt. The nature of agreements inked with Independent Power Producers (or IPPs), drained out WAPDA. Consumers, on the other hand, have constantly suffered rising tariffs since the inception of private power in Pakistan. WAPDA’s own conditions have deteriorated to an extent that the utility’s annual losses hovers around Rs. 40 billion. Its old and outdated infrastructure only adds to its woes. The utility’s line losses lie between 27-30 percent. The Government of Pakistan has taken steps to revamp WAPDA, foremost of which is the unbundling of the utility into distribution and generation companies. The Energy Group of SDPI is preparing a report, which tries to address the problems/controversies generated by liberalization and deregulation of power sector in Pakistan. The report is in its final stages and would come out soon.
For more details on our Renewable Energy/Clean Fuels program please contact Dr A.H. Nayyar (firstname.lastname@example.org).