LAHORE - Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan contribute approximately 40 per cent to country’s GDP (gross domestic product) as well as employment generation. However, the SME sector has been facing difficulty to sustain by operating on oil/diesel-run generator to fulfil energy needs, while specific affected units have closed down and quite a few have relocated to avert trade crunches.

Keeping all these factors in view, the solar energy could prove to be an effective and commercially viable alternative resource for sustainability of 3.2 million SMEs in Pakistan, and enable these to compete in the local and international markets, Reon Energy Limited CEO Inamur Rehman told APP here Saturday.

He said that numerous sector-specific studies over the period have proven that widespread commercially available technologies such as solar power can ease the energy crisis.

With solar and wind power becoming increasingly competitive, various local banks have initiated credit facilities for green energy investments, he said, asserting that switching from fossil fuel to renewable sources could also prove to be both economically and technically beneficial for the SME sector. Also, the recent feed-in-tariff policies have created opportunity for SMEs to emerge as a third party renewable energy provider through energy sales to the grid.

Inamur Rehman said that energy from diesel is very expensive and rendered the SMEs uncompetitive for which this sector would have to explore other sustainable alternatives. “With the recent technology improvements, solar and wind energy can provide a reasonable solution to meet the sector’s electricity needs.

Solar energy is easily installed and provides a commercially viable alternative. “It is necessary that we all work together to facilitate and fund renewable energy investments,” he observed.

He said that energy plays a crucial role in efficient functioning of industries. It is important to mention that financial support over the period is increased to accelerate renewable energy investments and that the government provides enabling policies to make renewables attractive to the private sector.

Also, it is essential that SME units set time bound renewable energy targets for creating self-sustaining ventures and such interventions at various levels would not only benefit the individual units but also prove profitable for long term sustainability of this sector and the energy sector in the country, he said.