By Sehar Sajjad via The Pakistani Spectator

THE ROUTINE upto 14-hour power outages have prompted the Pakistanis to react in strongest terms by protesting on streets. The power shortfall has reached level of 8200 MW, according to the Ministry of Water and Power. The residents of small towns and villages are facing even worse conditions with no power supply for 22 hours.
At this point, ironically the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) also have come forward stating their “powerlessness” to continue supplying power as they are faced with shortages of furnace oil and gas themselves.
Faced with such a large scale energy crisis, the people of Pakistan have two choices; either let the things go on the same pattern by relying on an irresponsible governments quickly depleting resources and “reacting” to every energy shortfall or being proactive by taking sustainable measures of energy production for covering the gap of energy demand and supply. The thought that a few protests will turn on the countrys power houses is a quite misleading. The citizens need to start thinking in short, applicable steps to help resolve the issue i.e. using solar panels and photo voltaic cells to meet the energy shortfall.
As the energy crisis is a global phenomenon, every country is hard at work to find substitute energy sources and so should Pakistan. In Thailand, the dream of building an eco-friendly, energy-efficient home has become a reality. A research team from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok has built the countrys first “bio-solar” house. The designer and occupant of this self-reliant bio-solar home, Soontorn Boonyatikarm, a professor of architecture at Chulalongkorn University, claims the house is 14 times more energy-efficient than a conventional house.
Similar concepts are being tested all around the globe. The biennial Solar Decathlon is energy efficient home-construction project competition held in USA with universities from all over the world competing in it. Energy Efficient Weeks are held in Indonesia annually inviting major industries to promote the energy conservation though efficient methods. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has initiated a major concept to support the development of ZEB (zero energy buildings). Their first report, a survey of key performers in real estate and construction, shows that the costs of constructing green houses are overestimated by 300 per cent and in reality the cost can run really low. The zero energy building concepts have been a progressive development from several other low-energy building designs. Among these, the Canadian R-2000 and the German passive house standards have been globally prominent. Combined government demonstration projects, such as the super-insulated Saskatchewan House, and the International Energy Agencys Task 13, have also highlighted the ZEB across nations.
Pakistan should follow the suit and try to not only invest in energy-efficient-home-building-schemes but also try to raise awareness on the issue by motivating people to try on their own behalf. Pakistanis can greatly benefit from their own household energy production units, which will trim down their utility costs as well as fulfilling their energy requirements. The construction of modern zero-energy buildings has become possible in Pakistan also, not only through the progress made in new construction technologies and techniques, lowering the cost, but it has also been considerably improved by academic research on traditional and experimental structures, which are collecting detailed energy performance data. Todays advanced computer models show the worth of house engineering scheme decisions. The zero net energy tactics have the prospect to cut carbon emissions, and also decrease the dependence on fossil fuels. The upgrading of an already built home to an energy efficient house is also possible with todays technology.
Another reason to upgrade your house into a self-sustaining house is the basic economics. Thinking ahead to your retirement, with a lower income, many Pakistanis are concerned about paying the ever-increasing utility bills. It is calculated that the additional investment needed for the bio-solar house (40 per cent more than a conventional house of this style) would pay for itself in seven years. The thought of never paying another utility bill is surely a deal-sealer.
Its a high time that the people of Pakistan start thinking in realistic terms and employ sustainable energy conservation methods themselves to come out of the dark, instead of waiting for the next 4 years for the government to finish its never-ending projects on Kalabagh Dam. Although the people of Pakistan have a right to go on using a reactive model by protesting against the lack of basic necessities available to them, its highly recommended that they think proactively. A little effort on our part could go a long way.

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