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The West lectures Pakistan on climate change dangers and offers "solutions"


Mar 16, 2012
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Pakistan must pursue a more ambitious plan to tap its variable renewable energy (VRE) — solar and wind power — potential to significantly increase its share in the country’s energy mix than the one planned in the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) 10-year Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) prepared last year.

In its analysis of the IGCEP 2021-22, a German think tank, Agora Energiewendie, suggests that Pakistan has the potential to generate at least 33,000 megawatts of solar and wind power or more than 48 per cent of the plan to boost the planned electricity production to nearly 70,000MW in the next 10 years. That will result in generation cost savings of 15pc and emission savings of almost 50pc, says the recently commissioned Agora study titled ‘Solar and Wind Roadmap for Pakistan’.

The study examines VRE scenarios beyond 2022 and reviews the 10-year generation expansion planning for Pakistan, evaluating the possibility and benefits of pursuing a more ambitious solar and wind power target by 2030-31. Based on the hourly dispatch of 2030, the study concludes that an increase in the planned total VRE capacity is possible by adding minor grid infrastructure reinforcements.

“Increasing VRE to 33,000MW by 2030 or 60pc greater than the IGCEP planned 21,000MW has high benefits and is stable under all scenarios. For any unexpected change in demand or others, the annual tender capacities of solar and wind can be adjusted flexibly in the future,” it adds.

The study further recommends including this more ambitious target in the next iteration of the IGCEP, which is due in June this year. It also suggests pursuing a strategic reinforcement of road infrastructure (including the high-voltage direct current link to Chaghai in Balochistan), focusing on the flexibilisation of the operation of hydro and coal units, and implementing a stringent and localised annual tender plan for auctioning out the 33,000MW of solar and wind power over the life of the NTDC plan.

The NTDC prepares IGCEP every year as required under the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority law to forecast the electricity demand and supply scenarios in the country over the next decade and gives plans to boost power generation from different fuels to meet the increase in demand.

The IGCEP encapsulates power generation additions required to meet the country’s future energy and power demand, including NTDC and K-Electric (KE) systems. Three scenarios of long-term forecast are prepared for the low, normal and high GDP growth of 3.40pc, 4.30pc and 5.42pc, respectively.

Agora has made its VRE recommendations based on the ‘base case’ scenario developed by the NTDC on a normal scenario of the long-term forecast, existing contractual obligations and retirements of power projects during the planning horizon. For the study, 8,021MW of existing power generation capacity is retired during the planning horizon in every scenario.

In the base case, the demand and installed capacity of the whole country, as forecast by the IGCEP, is 41,338MW and 69,372MW, respectively, by 2031, according to the IGCEP executive summary.

It is to highlight that in the planned future installed capacity, the optimised share of VRE is 20,548MW — 13,680MW from solar photovoltaic (PV) and 6,868MW from wind. That will be about 30pc of the total projected installed generation capacity in 2031. This is in line with the 2019 alternate energy plan that seeks to increase renewable energy share in the power generation fuel mix from the existing 7pc to 20pc by 2025 and 30pc by 2030.

The salient features of the IGCEP base case include aggressive inclusion of VREs, minimal reliance on imported fuels, that is, coal, RLNG and Residual Furnace Oil (RFO), and increased share of hydropower as well as local coal, with all optimised generation based on indigenous resources.

The IGCEP says the inclusion of VREs, hydro and local coal will help lower the basket price of the overall system, thus providing much-needed relief to consumers though in the long run.

The current installed generation capacity in the country is 41,239MW megawatts, including 3,319MW produced by KE. The committed projects will have a capacity of 14,159MW, while the candidate projects of 17,812MW.

Historically, Pakistan strongly relies on hydropower. Heavy capacities in thermal plants have been added over the years based on coal, heavy fuel oil, gas and nuclear to cover demand-supply. Apart from some domestic coal and gas, all fuels are imported. Solar and wind are at their initial stages with a share of 1pc and 4pc in the total energy mix, respectively.

The Agora study, conducted by energy experts working on or in Pakistan’s energy sector, describes the IGCEP as much more progressive in terms of wind’s 7,000MW and solar’s 14,000MW power than the last version. However, it still includes substantial further investments in local coal and other fossil fuel plants.

Due to the developments in the global energy market since early 2022, a completely new situation has evolved for countries dependent on imported energy like Pakistan: imported coal and gas prices have almost doubled, increasing Pakistan’s electricity generation costs and consumer prices and often leading to planned loadshedding to save money on energy imports that have caused the current account imbalance to worsen.

The Agora study says the increase in VRE does not mean that evacuation capacities have to be constructed in the grid infrastructure. “The envisaged VRE capacity is located across the country at different voltage levels, allowing the usage of existing infrastructure. Feeder-based and net metering plants do not require transmission grid infrastructure; furthermore, 1,000MW of PV nameplate capacity are typically connected to 0.8-0.9GW of evacuation capacity with a negligible amount of curtailment,” it points out.

ISLAMABAD: Noting that the melting of glaciers in the Himalayan region affects the water needs of the billions that live in South Asia, a noted climate scientist has urged Pakistan to decarbonise and avoid following the footsteps of the high-emitters in the developed world.

Prof Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a former vice chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Belgium’s pick to lead the Geneva-based panel this year, was in Pakistan last week to gather support for the election, scheduled to be held during a special IPCC session to be held in Nairobi in July this year.

The IPCC is a scientific body created by two United Nations specialised agencies: UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) more than thirty years ago with a mandate to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts and solutions.

After a meeting with Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, he told Dawn the interaction proved very productive. “She was very positive about my candidacy and said that the decision will be taken after consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.

Prof van Ypersele, who has to his credit forty years of experience in climate science and diplomacy, told Dawn that Pakistan was contributing very little to global emissions, but its vulnerability is very high, as made evident by the last year’s heat wave in spring and floods in the monsoon season.

He said that Pakistan and other developing countries should avoid following the developed countries. If these countries follow the same carbon-intensive path that developed countries have followed, in a few decades these countries will also be high emitters, he cautioned.

“We have to decarbonise as much as possible, and also need to take into account the need for energy access to everyone,” he said.

He also noted that the vulnerability of the South Asian region was quite high. Being a tropical region where the level of temperature is relatively high, therefore the impacts are also larger.

The melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, he said, is a big problem for all the countries which depend on the existence of those glaciers for their water resources. If those glaciers melt quickly some of the rivers will have flooding, especially if it is combined with extreme rainfall, Prof van Ypersele said.

Similar themes were explored in this discussions in Islamabad. According to him, Ms Rehman spoke about the effects of climate change on Pakistan that resulted in the devastating floods of 2022. The minister spoke about the lack of funding and emphasised adequate resources from multilateral institutions needed particularly for adaptation measures.

The professor also held a group discussion with legislators, environmental experts and government and non-governmental officials at the residence of Belgian Ambassador Charles Delogne.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change; former adviser to PM on climate change Malik Amin Aslam and former UNEP deputy executive director Shafqat Kakakhel also participated in the discussion.

IPCC is expected to announce the official call for nominations for its chair next month. Belgium announced Prof van Ypersele’s candidacy in October 2022. He also contested for the post in 2015, but missed out by just 12 votes.

As part of his campaign for the post, Prof van Ypersele has now completed a tour of the South Asian region, visiting Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and holding video calls with officials from Bhutan and Sri Lanka, the two countries where Belgium has no diplomatic presence.

The IPCC is currently composed of 195 member states and as per rules, each country has one vote for the single-term post. This year, IPCC will also hold elections to its 34-member bureau for the new term.

The unique power of this UN climate body lies in the breadth and depth of its climate assessment reports. Thousands of experts from around the world synthesise the latest scientific findings on the impacts of and the potential responses to climate change with the IPCC’s comprehensive Assessment Reports released every five to seven years.

Prof van Ypersele said that a meeting of IPCC will take place in Interlaken (Switzerland) this month to complete the final step of the sixth assessment report. The final stage in the sixth report will deliver to policy makers an integrated view of both problems and elements of solutions for them to implement.

@Dalit bro

While it is good to both solar and wind, do remember they do not give 24*7 power. Pak must not ignore thermal power (based on Thar coal) as well as hydropower. Plus, it must build pumped storage hydro power plant to store excess RE power.

Obviously they are concerned after this was announced not so long ago:

Pakistan plans to quadruple domestic coal-fired power, move away from gas​

@Dalit bro

While it is good to both solar and wind, do remember they do not give 24*7 power. Pak must not ignore thermal power (based on Thar coal) as well as hydropower. Plus, it must build pumped storage hydro power plant to store excess RE power.


Brother, the Western powers don't want Pakistan to use it's vast coal reserve. We had already predicted that Western powers would try to interfere in these plans. The preaching is no coincidence.

Expect more preaching in the coming weeks and months.

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