Need to reprioritise energy options

With the unprecedented slump in prices of petroleum products in international market, a new energy landscape is unfolding for the third world states particularly Pakistan with exciting prospects which calls for extra caution for policymakers. The more important factor is that any misjudgement of this critical juncture can result in heavy price for the economy of Pakistan and its nation. Presently, all the oil importing countries especially Pakistan are rejoicing the drastic oil prices reduction. The government of Pakistan, which is also exploring various options to import LNG to meet its domestic needs following the critical energy crisis, shouldnt ignore alternative energy options like coal, solar, wind, and nuclear power in the wake of uncertainty looming over oil and LNG market. Though the demand-supply gap in the LNG market has tilted in favour of buyers who are now dictating terms, yet the situation may again turn in a couple of years. There are strong indications that the global LNG supply would get a boost of 10 per cent this year and a 30 per cent jump within five to seven years, which, of course, wont serve the energy-deficient Pakistan positively. The oil price collapse has left many fracking, deep sea and other oil extraction projects economically unviable which will have an impact on the situation in the long run. Subsequently, many countries have now started shifting their focus to coal, solar and nuclear power generation. India, which is currently generating 3000 MW from renewable sources, has now started a project to generate 20,000 MW from solar energy and 100,000 MW of renewable energy by 2022. Even Saudi Arabia, which is the worlds number one oil producing state, is shifting its focus towards exploring renewable energy sources as many solar projects have so far been installed there. Obviously, this would contribute significantly towards achieving self-sufficiency in the energy sector. On the other hand, Pakistan where 38 per cent population lacks electricity, solar market remains underdeveloped which calls for an effective and serious policy review. Many factors like lack of institutional governance, high import duties on equipments, low level of awareness as well as technila knowhow and, of course, volatile law and order situation and non-protection of installations especially in Balochistan are responsible to the non-promotion of alternative energy sources in the country. At this stage, our policy makers should rise to this prevailing critical situatin in the energy sector and reprioritize their options by putting in their result-oriented efforts so that the energy crisis could be overcome in coming years.

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