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Hilal English

SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part III)

April 2024

This article focuses on various aspects of the energy sector, examining the current demand versus potential and highlighting recent initiatives by SIFC to improve the energy landscape.

Capitalizing on the achievements of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) since its establishment in 2023, the achievements in the energy sector are also noteworthy. SIFC has made long strides in the energy sector. These include success in controlling electricity theft and the resultant revenue increase, exploring new opportunities in renewable energy projects, rationalizing the electricity and gas tariffs, and taking measures to control the ever-bulging circular debt. 
This article focuses on various aspects of the energy sector, challenges hindering progress, the gap between demand and potential, and recent measures taken by SIFC to enhance the energy sector.
Elements of the Energy Sector
Pakistan's energy sector is vast, with its main elements of electricity, natural gas, LNG/RLNG (Liquefied Natural Gas/Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas), petroleum, coal, and renewable energy resources like solar and wind. Despite the abundant potential in these elements, numerous challenges impede progress in this sector.

SIFC, through strenuous efforts, thorough diligence, and deliberation, was able to untangle the various complex entanglements in this sector. By adopting a step-by-step approach, SIFC first ascertained the potentials offered by the energy sector, then analyzed the problems faced by the sector hindering progression in this field, and embarked upon the mission to overcome the problems in a graduated manner–handling one issue at a time and giving higher priority to aspects that were urgent and important.
Problems Faced in Progression in the Energy Sector
Over the past seven decades, the institutions of Pakistan have faced challenges, impacting the present situation, and the energy and power sector is not immune. These challenges have led to consequences such as increased line losses, a growing circular debt, hesitance towards adopting renewable energy, unjust distribution of resources, and the use of uneconomical energy. The cumulative effect of these inefficiencies has placed an increased burden on the common person through a substantial rise in monthly bills in the recent years.
Growing Demand Versus Potential in the Energy Sector
The situation, though grim, is not entirely disappointing. Based on estimations and calculations, Pakistan's energy demand is expected to increase by 150 percent by the year 2030, equivalent to 125 million tons of oil, compared to the current requirement of up to 90 million tons. This translates to an annual increase in demand for oil by 2.4 percent, gas by 1.7 percent, and power by 3.9 percent.
To cope with this increasing demand, Pakistan can utilize renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, and hydro, to meet the upcoming challenges and make the system more efficient and economical. Based on the statistics gathered by SIFC, Pakistan has a renewable energy potential of 3,300 gigawatts (GW):
Solar Energy Potential (2900 GW). Pakistan is located in the zone of the Tropic of Cancer, between 23-37 degrees North of the equator. This gives Pakistan a wealth of sunlight throughout most of the year. Balochistan is the province that gets maximum sunlight throughout the year, followed by Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).    
Wind Energy Potential (340 GW). A major portion of the province of Balochistan, the whole of the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan), Southern Sindh, and portions of KP and Punjab have the wind corridors best suited for wind energy farms. 
▪  Hydel Energy Potential (60 GW). River Indus is the major river that runs along the length of Pakistan, which the Rivers Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Swat, Kunhar, and Punch feed. Being perineal rivers, these offer an all-year-long ability for electricity generation using hydel power plants. 
Mentioned above is Pakistan's renewable energy potential, which, if utilized properly, can help overcome the self-created shortage in energy production and enable Pakistan to export energy to other countries.
Measures Taken by SIFC to Improve the Energy Sector
In SIFC Vision 2031, it has been decided to reduce reliance on furnace oil, electricity imports, coal (local and imported), furnace oil, gas, and bagasse (dry pulpy fibrous material that remains after crushing sugar cane–used as a biofuel), and relying more on the renewable energy resources, like hydel power, solar energy, wind energy, and RLNG. These measures will help overcome the energy crisis to a great extent. 
An investor can now embark on a seamless investment journey with SIFC. The mechanism has been tailored to ensure reliability, success, and prosperity for both the investor and Pakistan. Relevant policies, regulations, and incentives have been compiled for the investor's ease, who can easily access the concerned authorities through the SIFC website and submit their proposal. This proposal is then evaluated by a team of experts at the SIFC forum to ascertain the investment potential. Following this, SIFC organizes personalized meetings and engagements. Upon establishing confidence, SIFC plans follow-up engagements involving relevant stakeholders and regulators. After the project is commissioned, SIFC provides comprehensive support through each step.
To address the challenges in the energy sector, SIFC has established an anti-theft task force to curb electricity theft, resulting in the recovery of approximately eighty-six billion rupees. Additionally, concrete steps are being taken to reduce the burgeoning circular debt, for which extensive work has been conducted. Similarly, detailed work on tariff rationalization has been prepared for presentation to the relevant authorities. Efforts to develop a consensus among all stakeholders for conducting competitive bidding on wind and solar PV (photovoltaic) projects have also been made.
Pakistan has already initiated the drive to solarize the country. As a precursor, two significant solar projects have been commissioned with the assistance of international companies. The first one, located in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) area, is a solar project of one megawatt, and the second is a 150-megawatt project in Sukkur. Both projects are outcomes of public-private partnerships (PPP). They will not only help overcome the electricity shortage in the region but, as clean energy initiatives, will also contribute to reducing environmental pollution by lowering carbon emissions. These projects will greatly benefit both domestic and commercial users. Additionally, there are a few more projects of varying capacities in the pipeline, likely to be undertaken in the coming year.
It is quite encouraging to see Pakistan's forward-looking leadership, which is determined to take the country out of the economic turmoil and help it embark on a journey of prosperity, success, and growth. Through the initiatives and facilitation drive of SIFC, many achievements have been made in a short span of just a few months. 

 (To be continued…) 


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