Energy projects and lesson learnt

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday gave a go-ahead for the early execution of 10,000 megawatts of solar energy projects to reduce the import bill. According to the Prime Minister, the solar programme would generate electricity at the rate of Rs 9 per unit, saving billions spent on expensive electricity production. He lauded his economic and power team for making all-out efforts to materialize the mega solar project, which, he said, would especially benefit schools, hospitals and tube wells. The Prime Minister ordered the concerned authorities to immediately kick off bidding process and start the execution of the project as early as possible.

Pakistan has been confronting a grave economic crisis which further multiplied the impact of the global price hike of energy products including the prices of oil, gas and electricity because the government withdrew all subsidies on petroleum products. According to government statistics, the country’s energy demand has exceeded 30,000 megawatts and the national electricity production remained at 23,900 megawatts in recent days, while over 7000 megawatts shortfall resulted in prolonged power outages, and stopped the wheel of industry in the country.

The coalition government has used several measures to minimize the use of energy including a 40% cut in the fuel allowance of government officials, five days working week, a ban on the use of air conditioning, early closure of businesses, and management of load shedding, yet these strategies could not produced desired result. Presently, the purchase of thermal fuel has become a great challenge for the government, which is already facing serious problems in addressing the financial crisis over the past months.

The coalition government is championing the Solarization of Pakistan and preparing to kick off a mega solar energy project to overcome the energy shortage. Interestingly, earlier the previous PML-N government initiated a gigantic scheme for the production of electricity with various IPPs and agreed on capacity payment of the power giant which cost billions of rupees to the nation. So, the coalition government should not rush in the finalization of mega projects and must weigh all pros and cons besides a careful assessment of future energy needs so no hasty decision becomes a limitation for the nation.