Pakistan can spur social and economic development with renewable energy while increasing energy security and improving energy access, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) prepared in co-operation with the Government of Pakistan. Renewables Renewables Readiness Assessment Pakistan provides a comprehensive analysis of the country’s energy sector and identifies key actions to accelerate renewable energy deployment.
While hydropower has traditionally been the most prominent source of renewable energy in Pakistan — making up almost a third of electricity generation with 7.1 gigawatts (GW) of installed grid-connected capacity — IRENA’s assessment finds that the country has up to 60 GW of economic and technical hydropower potential. The assessment also identifies 50 GW of theoretical wind potential in Pakistan’s southern Sindh and Baluchistan provinces and estimates that 25 million tonnes of biomass feedstocks from industrial and agricultural residue can be made available for use, per year.
“Pakistan is undergoing rapid economic and industrial development, which in turn is fuelling strong energy demand growth across the country,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General. “To meet this demand Pakistan has a tremendous opportunity to cost-effectively tap its abundant solar, wind and hydropower resource potential. Doing so would support national prosperity and job creation, whilst enhancing security of supply, improving access and moving Pakistan towards greater energy independence.”
“Pakistan is rich in renewable energy potential, and can with this assessment develop policies, investment opportunities and energy development actions to harness it,” said Abid Sher Ali, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Power. “Critical to this report has been IRENA’s valuable policy guidance and technical assistance to determine our best available renewable-based power options,” continued Minister Ali.
The report shows that declines in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology costs have supported the sector’s growth in Pakistan, with 400 megawatts of solar PV projects in 2015-2016, helping to create over 15,500 local jobs.
In recent years, Pakistan has seen a surge in providers offering a range of solar home system products including solar water pumping systems, solar lighting solutions and solar water heaters. With more than half of Pakistan’s total population residing in rural areas, millions remain reliant on traditional biomass use. Among Pakistan’s rural population, only half have access to electricity.
IRENA’s assessment presents options for Pakistan to strengthen its policy, regulatory and institutional framework in order to accelerate renewables deployment. It suggests ways to strengthen renewable energy targets, examines the constraints of existing grid infrastructure, highlights the best mechanisms to reduce costs and address technical challenges, and underlines the potential for private investment in renewables for off-grid and rural electrification.
To further utilise the country’s indigenous renewable energy resources, Renewables Readiness Assessment Pakistan finds that key challenges can be addressed by: