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Biomass has the ability to upstage solar, wind energy

Pakistani NGO shortlisted for Zayed award

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Biomass has more potential to become a more affordable source of renewable energy than solar and wind, according to the chief executive of a Pakistani non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Approximately 2.4 billion people, generally the world's poorest, rely directly upon biomass for their heating and cooking needs and this number is expected to increase to 2.7 billion in 2030, said Hadi Husani, CEO of Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBS) in Pakistan, in an email interview.

The organisation has been shortlisted for the Zayed Future Energy Prize for its efforts to create sustainable and energy-efficient communities.

Access to energy is still a major challenge for a large number of communities particularly in the developing world, the CEO said.

The lack of clean, reliable and sustainable sources of energy has wide-reaching consequences — mainly economic and developmental — for these communities, Husani said.

Therefore energy access is a crucial building block for these vulnerable parts of society and addressing the issue can potentially alleviate a lot more than fuel shortages, he said.

As worldwide demand for energy continues to increase dramatically over the coming decade, access to and use of energy will play a major role in determining the maintenance and enhancement of quality of life, and there are political and security implications closely-associated with declining standards of quality of life, he explained.

This year, the Zayed Future Energy Prize's Jury evaluated 13 shortlisted candidates to select five finalists who will win a total of $3.5 million (Dh12.8 million). The awards will be revealed at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit that will be held from Monday to Thursday.

Significant strides

Husani said AKPBS has made significant strides in introducing sustainable energy and environmental stewardship to the mountain communities of northern Pakistan.

"Through our interventions, we have been able to bring our sustainable solutions to hundreds of thousands of the most marginalised and the most impacted by climate change," he said.

"If we were to win the final prize, we will use the resources and the prestige as a vehicle to bring together some of the leaders in the development of sustainable and energy efficient products from the private sector and the development sector," Husani said.

Making life bearable

Founded in 1980, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBS) focuses on improving the living conditions of the less privileged people of Pakistan.

A focal point of their work is the innovation and distribution of eight energy-saving appliances that have already contributed to an annual carbon dioxide saving of 100,000 metric tonnes.

Through the use of improved cooking stoves with Water Warming Facilities, Roof Hatch Windows, and floor and wall insulation techniques, the organisation has impacted the lives of over 220,000 people.