Islamabad: A massive solar energy project to power more than 200,000 homes in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province has been initiated.
The provincial government has finalised the environment-friendly project with the suppliers to provide solar-powered electricity to 200,000 households in 10 districts of Sindh, the provincial energy minister Imtiaz Shaikh said. The 10 districts include Badin, Tharparkar, Khairpur, Sujawal, Mithi, Sanghar, Ghotki, Kashmore, Jacobabad and Qambar Shahdadkot.
The $30 million initiative for rural households with low or no grid access is part of the Sindh Solar Energy Project (SSEP) that aims to increase solar power generation and access to electricity in Sindh province. The World Bank has provided $100 million of financing for SSEP to support utility-scale solar power, distributed solar on and around public buildings, and provision of solar systems to households.
The SSEP project includes a 400MW solar park at Manjhand town in Jamshoro district at a cost of $40 million, a $25 million project to install rooftop solar systems on public sector buildings in Karachi and Hyderabad with 20MW capacity, and the $30 million to provide 200,000 rural households access to affordable solar home systems.
Pakistan is investing in the renewable energy transition to harness clean energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and biomass to meet current energy challenges as well as the future demand. The country is moving towards a coal-free future with focus on clean energy. In December 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the country will not approve new coal-fired power generation projects as part of its contribution to global efforts against climate change. Pakistan also aims to produce 60 per cent of its energy through renewable resources by 2030.
Pakistan’s energy mix
Pakistan, which experiences critical energy crisis, currently generates its power from an energy mix that includes oil, gas (natural gas and liquefied natural gas, LNG), coal, nuclear and renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro energy, biomass. In the last five years, 18 wind power projects of 937MW, six solar power projects of 418MW and six 201MW bagasse projects were added to the national grid.
Thermal (fossil fuels) – 58.4%
Hydro – 30%
Renewable and nuclear – 10.6%