Pakistan is facing perpetual energy crises, yet, all upfront tariffs for green energy projects are on halt, while the government is spending obscene amounts of money on oil and gas projects. The Pakistan Muslim League-N won the 2013 elections, with promises to wipe out power outages in Pakistan. With almost all energy projects either halted or suspended, it is safe to say that their assurance was nothing but another political gimmick.

To expedite the deployment of green energy projects in Pakistan, NEPRA started issuing “Upfront Tariffs” in 2015 for solar, wind, and hydro power projects- standardised tariff for every classification and size bracket of renewable energy project. The document that publishes a specific upfront tariff is only deemed legal once the Ministry of Water and Power notifies it in the official gazette. However, they have refused to notify, on the grounds that they are too expensive. In the meantime, the government is shamelessly investing in oil and gas projects- ones that are crippling our economy and destroying the environment.

The government recently, approved the fast-track setting up of smaller Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) based power projects of 1,000 megawatts and legally empowered Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to sell imported LNG to gas utilities and other consumers. While no one in Pakistan is being allowed to develop sustainable hydro power projects using our canal systems, the government is okay asking for an additional Rs 23 billion for the Nandipur power plant – a project that has not given us any electricity since almost three years.

Pakistan has failed to tap its vast hydropower potential because policy makers view energy policy in terms of short term political tenure and have put personal interests over national interests. Hydropower projects take longer and are more expensive to build in the short term, but provide cheaper energy in the long run. The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, Pakistan’s crown jewel with has come to a grinding halt after the construction of only 100 MW worth of infrastructure and Pakistan’s ongoing solar project of 300 MW with the Koreans in Balochistan has also stopped.

Our power policy does not appropriately encompass evolving technologies that can ensure our energy security. Pakistan’s current energy mix is highly skewed towards thermal and fossil fuel based power generation sources. With rapidly depleting local natural gas reserves and import of furnace oil, such power generation is very expensive and is set to become even more vulnerable.