Pakistan’s President House is fully powered by solar energy since 2021. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Pakistan government has approved the National Solar Energy Initiative to produce 10,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity through solar energy projects in the next months. The initiative aims to reduce the import bill of costly diesel and furnace oil.

“A major chunk of electricity is produced from imported fuel whose prices have gone up in recent months. Our National Solar Energy Initiative is aimed at substituting costly energy with cheap solar power, which will provide massive relief to people and save precious foreign exchange” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in his tweet. He said that the government has decided to call all stakeholders for a pre-bid conference as soon as next week under the initiative to generate 10,000 MW of solar power.

In the first phase, the solar energy would be supplied to the government buildings, tube wells operating on electricity and diesel and domestic consumers with low con-sumption. PM Sharif directed the authorities to ensure the early installation of solar plants before the next summer season.

The prime minister announced the decision in a meeting held to discuss measures to provide relief to the masses amid complaints by the people as the power prices are go-ing up. PM Shehbaz Sharif also announced an exemption from Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) charges for electricity consumers utilising a maximum of 300 units. The extra burden of FPA and other surcharges included in August 2022 electricity bills prompted public protests. Some people also sought relief from the court to either entirely with-draw or reduce extra charges.

Pakistan eyes solar-powered government buildings

The solar energy initiative would help government buildings and tube wells shift from diesel to solar power. The power plants operating on diesel, coal and furnace oil will be partially replaced too. Pakistan’s President House is fully powered by green en-ergy. The building shifted to green energy in 2021 to promote renewable energy in the country. President Dr Arif Alvi says that the 1-MW solar photovoltaic system at the pres-idency would help protect the environment and lead to an annual contribution of Rs32 million to the national exchequer.

This week, Pakistan signed the Green Framework Engagement Agreement with Den-mark to create stronger collaboration in areas such as climate change mitigation and adaptation and a sustainable green transition. Pakistan says it is keen to benefit from Danish expertise to build its capacity for dealing with the repercussions of climate change.

Pakistan’s energy mix

Pakistan’s current energy mix is formed of about 58 per cent fossil fuels, 30 per cent hydropower and 10 per cent renewables and nuclear power. However, the country has tremendous potential for producing renewable energy, which is being explored exten-sively. Pakistan has vowed to produce 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.