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Pakistan well ahead in stride of alternate energy projects; more visionary strategy leads to survivability

Interview with Dr Mujtaba Yousuf Arain — Entrepreneur, Alternate/Renewable Energy International

PROFILE:

Dr Mujtaba Yousuf Arain is the first young international Pakistani entrepreneur holding shares and partnerships in over 10 reputed multinational companies such as Gulf Korea Group of Companies and Ministry of Renewable Energy, Thailand. He started his business career in 2002 at the age of 16 and during his 15-year tenure he has learnt about international businesses and his objective is to work on lucrative business ideas especially in health and technologies. He is currently involved in investment consultancy in Middle East and Asian countries in Alternate/Renewable Energy and has successfully accomplished 1500MW Energy Projects in Thailand since 2015.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON THE NEED OF ALTERNATE ENERGY PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN:

DR MUJTABA YOUSUF ARAIN: Alternate/Renewable energy technologies (i.e., Solar, Wind, Biomass, Hydro, Hydrogen and Fuel) are actually clean sources of energy that have a much healthy environmental impact than conventional energy technologies.

Renewable energy makes the world stronger and provides necessary support to get rid of over-dependence on oil while strengthens economy and defense capability.

For countries like Pakistan (rich in natural resources and with a population of over 200 million), the importance of renewable energy becomes even more critical due to the fact of limited hydro potential and conflicting mindset of our feudal elite from the point of view of water resource management. Furthermore, our developing country is facing difficulties on demand and supply of electricity and further poses threats to our long term survivability and existence as a just nation.

With this in mind, it’s time to rethink and chalk out a visionary strategy (with prompt action before our national demise) defining a roadmap of energy supply for ourselves, for our next generations and for the sake of our country’s national stability and security. A rich natural potential of renewable energy resource is already there. The question only lies how to actualize this in practice. Considering geographical and climatic conditions, Pakistan is well-placed for more plausible but technological matured renewable energy source like Wind (both onshore and offshore wind energy), Photovoltaic (PV) technology and Biomass. Only wind energy source in fact has capacity to collectively produce over 150,000MW of electricity in Pakistan (140,000MW is possible in Sindh) according to recent USAID report.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE PROGRESS IN PRODUCTION AND INVESTMENT IN THE ALTERNATE ENERGY PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN?

DR MUJTABA YOUSUF ARAIN: According to Pakistan Power & Renewable Energy Investment Conference held on 2016, Pakistan has large untapped renewable energy resources in terms of wind and solar energy, not to mention its hydro and biomass potential, and it continues to draw further interest from companies looking to setting up renewable energy projects.

The government has taken pragmatic steps to harness the available renewable energy potential, diversify its energy mix and ensure sustainable development in the country. The promotion and development of RE technology have generated a record investment in just one year revealing the interest of investors in this sector.

Foreign investors have already poured over $3 billion into the renewable energy sector in Pakistan over the last year. According to my views, being an investment consultant, Pakistan government should welcome foreign countries to invest in renewable energy power plants and execution plans with their experts to hold control on energy crises in Pakistan and fulfill energy requirements. And the most important point is to share about the technology durability and life if our government is moving towards the investment solution so it is very important to maintain and study about proper equipment specifications and quality as well because renewable energy such as (Solar PV cell/ Wind turbine Generators or all equipment’s must be high quality otherwise its maintenance will be more expensive and if the initial step goes wrong after few years it will become more dangerous to secure your investment.

PAGE: WHAT SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT DO FOR THE PROMOTION OF ALTERNATE ENERGY?

DR MUJTABA YOUSUF ARAIN: Every government supports even Pakistani government also looks forward to renewable energy as well because energy crisis is more harmful for developing countries.

Government of Pakistan is putting greater emphasis on renewable energy and has set a target of 10% renewable energy or 2700MW in the country’s energy mix. Pakistan, like other developing countries of the region, is facing a serious challenge of energy deficit. Renewable energy resources can play an important role in bridging this deficit. More importantly, renewable energy can take electricity to remote rural areas, where power transmission becomes too expensive.

The Government of Pakistan aims that all localities not planned to be connected with national grid in next 20 years, be earmarked for alternative/renewable energy resources and the solar/wind energy related technologies be indigenized in next decade through national/international collaboration.

POWER SECTOR OF PAKISTAN – KEY STATISTICS
Total Generation Capacity
19,222 MW
Electricity Distribution Network
360,000 Km
Sectoral Share of Energy Consumption
34.4% Transportation
34.2 % Industrial
23 % Residential
3.1 % Commercial
2.6 % Agriculture
2.7 % Government
Fuel Share Of Energy Consumption
43.8 % Natural Gas
39 % Oil
11 % Hydroelectricity
5.2 % Coal
1 % Nuclear
Total Supplies to the Energy Mix
48.12 Million TOE
Average Growth in Energy Consumption
4.8 % per annum

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON TAXATION ISSUES IN THIS BUSINESS:

DR MUJTABA YOUSUF ARAIN: According to a source, at this time when many countries are offering financial incentives to promote the use of clean energy, Pakistan has imposed a 32.5 percent tax on the import of solar panels, a move experts say is likely to hit demand for solar energy.

Officials say the tax was imposed to encourage local manufacturing of solar panels but the country’s Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has recommended the government to remove it as it is hampering efforts to expand the use of solar energy and get power to off-grid areas of the country.

It’s important to study about other countries policies as well according to my experience as I have been working in Thailand for last 2 years with the Ministry of Renewable Energy that most of the countries don’t charge taxes for Import/Supplies/Income for 6 to 8 years.

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