Pakistan aims at reducing dependence on fossil fuel

  • File Jul 8, 2021

KARACHI: Like many other countries of the world, Pakistan has been setting targets to tackle climate change by reducing dependence on fossil fuel. The country has set a target for power sector at 30% share of renewable energy by the year 2030. Likewise electric cars’ penetration in 2030 has also been set at 30%.

But the government’s blueprint -– the NTDC’s Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP 2021-30) for the power sector — has only a 12% share of proper renewables -– solar and wind.

According to experts, such as Research Associate at Rural Development Policy Institute Haneea Isaad, the Pakistan’s power sector expansion has high contribution of fossil fuel such as coal. Moreover, hydro projects have been projected as renewables, which was grossly incorrect.

“It’s well researched that the dams above capacity of 50Kwh are not feasible,” she said. “It’s expensive, displaces indigenous communities and disturbs the natural geography.”

As per IGCEP 2021-30, hydropower will constitute half of the energy mix by the year 2030. The new plan makes hydropower the largest single source of power generation with a base generation followed by fossil fuel (25%), nuclear (13%), and renewables such as wind and solar (12%).

Different organizations have collaborated and shared their research and studies under a banner of Renewable Energy Coalition. The purpose of the forum is to make a research-based case to increase feasible renewable energy share in the country’s power mix.

Mohammad Ali Shah of Fisherfolks Forum says large dams are eco-unfriendly.

“Large dams generate greater risk by increasing seismic risk in mountainous areas, reducing the floodplains ability to absorb large flood events, and increasing methane emissions into the atmosphere as a result of still water in the reservoir,” he said.

“Dams also incur large social costs. These occur primarily in terms of displacement and loss of livelihood. These costs are also severely underestimated in the IGCEP 2021-30 calculations.”

Policy Consultant Zain Moulvi, who is a lawyer, says according to the NEPRA Act the development of renewable electricity markets must uphold the international commitments of Pakistan as well as the responsibility of Pakistan to support and encourage measures to effectively mitigate adverse climate change.

“The IGCEP in its oversized claim to have pursued a clean and green energy, fails to consider the impact of its proposed generation mix -– particularly the expansion of large hydro and local coal -– on any of these factors and includes no analysis of the mitigation measures and costs associated with the same in its proposed capacity expansion plan.”

This opinion piece was originally published in Business Recorder on July 8th, 2021