This is in response to Additional Chief Secretary (Energy), Government of Punjab, Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan’s article on Punjab Solar Initiative, where he has tried to appease the angry questions against the initiative appearing in the media. The Secretary has failed in his attempt, because he has not realized or even answered the burning questions.

The people are not pleased with this initiative because of its rush and secrecy. Although the Secretary claims that “Speed and transparency, is the name of the game”, but there is no transparency or openness in this initiative.

Since day one the GoP have been secretive about the power purchase rate. Initially it was reported to be 21.5 Rs per unit, much higher than the expensive furnace oil energy rate of 19 Rs per unit. Than NEPRA revised it to 19.19 Rs per unit (Document available on their website), which was still very expensive, but now the honorable secretary claims the rate to be 14.10 Rs per unit. What is the actual rate? Is there is fixed monthly/yearly capacity cost?

Similarly, the Secretary claims that a open competitive bidding process was followed to award the contract on lowest bid submitted at USD 131.5 million, but for energy projects the mechanism is Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT), as the owner invest in the project and the Government guarantees monthly payments for 15-50 years. If competitive bidding was used, this would mean that the project is owned by the GoP. Therefore can the GoP please clarify who owns this project, and why open competitive bidding was used for energy project, while also getting rate from NEPRA?

The Secretary is right to claim that solar energy provides power at peak intervals, reducing the load on the energy system. But he has failed to inform everyone that solar power is one of most expensive energy, and that is why countries around the World have only installed Solar power to reduce stress on their energy systems during peak day hours and not to replace other and cheaper energy sources.

Similarly, the way GoP have been highlighting the installation of 100MW, while in reality it was only a 17 MW system, also points us towards the shadiness of this initiative. It should also be mentioned here that research on Solar cells around the World have shown that maximum average for Solar power efficiency is 15%, while the Quiad-E-Azam Solar Park claims 17%, which if true, should be allowed to be researched to help improve Solar power around the World.

Therefore the Government of Punjab is kindly requested to truthfully inform the people of Pakistan on all aspects of the Solar initiative, while we also request that dubious replies in the media, like the one left by Additional Secretary (Energy), where he has avoided replying to the Solar energy tariff rate for Punjab and tried to change a 17MW Solar system into a 84MW system, should be avoided to reduce misconception about good initiatives by GoP.

ENGR MUHAMMAD BASEER KHAN,

Peshawar, August 13.