Pakistan plans to set up renewable energy institute

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari has said that the energy ministry is planning to establish a renewable energy institute with an aim to conduct research, study existing potential and propose policy measures for government’s consideration.

He disclosed this during a meeting with a delegation of the World Bank and its arm International Finance Corporation (IFC), jointly headed by World Bank Vice-President for South Asia Annettee Dixon and IFC Vice-President for the region Snezana Stoijkvic on Friday.

Highlighting the potential of renewable energy in Pakistan, the minister pointed out that in order to tap such resources and pass on due benefits to consumers, the government had decided to hold competitive biddings for clean energy generation in the future.

He sought assistance of the World Bank and IFC for establishing the renewable energy institute while saying that the Power Division was also working on domestic resource mobilisation for setting up the institute.

The minister underscored the need for investment in power distribution in order to modernise the existing infrastructure.

In this regard, he invited the World Bank and IFC to consider pouring investment into laying ABC power cables for the distribution network, which would greatly help in reducing line losses and controlling theft. “The payback time for ABC cables is just nine months,” he said.

He told the delegation that proposed amendments to the Nepra Act were in the upper house of parliament and with their finalisation the power sector would be more open for the investors.

The Power Division was already working on the concept of “wheeling” with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to make electricity a tradable commodity, he said.

The IFC vice-president expressed interest in tapping the renewable energy resources – wind and solar – in Balochistan and said its teams would coordinate with the Power Division and all other stakeholders in that regard.

The IFC official was also keen on assisting Pakistan’s power sector in tapping the renewable energy sources in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

She expressed the desire to invest in the improvement of distribution network and it was agreed that both sides would soon hold roundtable discussions to exchange views on the possibility of investment.

Praising the reforms undertaken by Pakistan, the World Bank vice-president expressed interest in assisting the Power Division in formulating a new energy policy and national electricity plan.

She reiterated that the bank would continue to support the power sector in the modernisation of transmission lines.