PTI minister asks SAARC to cooperate in energy sector

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SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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ISLAMABAD: There is a need for cooperation in the energy sector and ensuring regional harmony among member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), stressed Minister for Power Omar Ayub.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ninth meeting of the Saarc Working Group on Energy, the minister said energy was an important sector and “we cannot live in isolation”.

He said the government was making efforts to completely change the existing energy mix by 2030. “Investment will also be enhanced in renewable energy.”

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The minister said economic activities could not be accelerated without ensuring a smooth and cheap electricity supply. “It should be our prime goal to extend cooperation in the energy sector among Saarc countries in order to raise people’s standard of living,” he said.

Also Read: Pakistan raises wheat contribution to SAARC Food Bank

Ayub expressed the hope that the Saarc Working Group on Energy would give positive suggestions for the provision of cheap electricity in member countries. The minister said Pakistan had an installed capacity of over 30,000 megawatts of electricity. Out of this, 60% was being generated through imported fuel including furnace oil, coal, etc while 30% was hydroelectric power, 6% was nuclear and 4% was generated through renewable energy.

“Now, the government has decided to reduce its reliance on imported fuel and promote renewable energy,” he said.

Under the new mechanism, the share of renewable energy would be enhanced to 25% of the total by 2025 and 30% by 2030, he said. Ayub pointed out that Pakistan had the largest reserves of coal and the first power plant based on domestically produced coal had already started functioning. He revealed that around 750MW of renewable energy would be added to the system shortly by attracting investment of $2 billion.

He said the government was also encouraging a net metering, wheeling and automatic meter reading system in the country. Special attention was being paid to the transmission and distribution system, he added.

“Efforts were being made to get electricity from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan through the Casa-1,000 project.”

The Power Division chief said they wanted to connect the region through a transmission line, adding that they were also expecting investment of $40 billion in power generation by 2030 while there was room for investment of $15-20 billion in the power distribution system.

The minister was of the view that the cost of energy could be reduced by adopting latest technology, which would benefit the entire industry.  

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2019.

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