The Prime Minister’s Chinese trump card has brought on a flurry of activity in the energy sector. Along with convention projects in nuclear and coal sector, a few large scale renewable energy projects are also on the cards, and seem by far the most intriguing prospects. Pursuing clean, renewable energy has far reaching consequences; for the economy, the international community and the environment.

Up till now Pakistan is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Natural gas (51%), Oil (23%) and Coal (6%) make up the bulk of electricity production. Almost all of the oil is imported and the natural gas reserves are under strain to meet both the energy sector’s and the private consumer’s demand. Hydroelectricity, the only operative clean energy project, supplies 11% of the total production. Further projects are hamstrung by agricultural and drinking water considerations; with provinces antagonistically guarding water supplies. Previous forays into alternative sources of clean energy, wind and solar, have been on a small, experimental and exhibitionist scale. Wind energy is being utilized to power select water pumps and solar energy has brought electricity to numerous remote rural villages. Yet, an attempt to connect large scale projects to the national grid is just being made.

Considering the immense potential of Pakistan in the clean energy sector, it is baffling why attempts weren’t made earlier to tap into this bounty. Large tracts of Pakistan, especially Balochistan, have long sunshine hours and high insolation levels; highly conducive to solar power generation. The Gharo-Kati Bandar wind corridor, a 60 km wide and 120 km long channel, alone has the potential to supply 50,000 MW of energy, twice Pakistan’s total consumption. It is at Gharo city, that the first 50 MW plant is being set up; to be operational in 2016. The recent plan to build a 9000 MW solar plant at the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, the world’s largest, despite unsurprisingly coming under fire for violation of PAPRA rules, is a step in the right direction. To unlock the true potential of renewable energy the government must make it an objective to draw majority of the energy from these sources, not to view it is a stop gap to make up for a shortfall amongst other sources. Laws and taxes holding back this development must be scaled back.

By all standards of sustainability, clean energy is the way forward. It frees countries from the crippling dependency on fossil fuels; whose limited supply and selective sources have been the cause of numerous conflicts. Its versatility allows for adaptation to various landscapes, and most importantly, it is the only way to combat the looming apocalypse due to climate change.