Mitigating electricity shortfall in Pakistan through renewable resources

In today’s world, access to uninterrupted supply of electricity ensures economic prosperity. However, increasing emissions of carbon dioxide causing climate change, as well as the projected decline in fossil fuel availability by 2030, signals the dire need to promote renewable energy as the only viable source of electricity generation. Pakistan, like many other developing countries, is currently experiencing a period of economic development. However, it is clear that energy poverty is a real threat to the country’s socio-economic development. As a result, it’s industries are moving to other countries where there is more continuous and reliable supply of electricity. Although Pakistan spent an astonishing USD 15 billion on oil imports last year it is still trapped in the spiral of energy scarcity.

So how can Pakistan satisfy its electricity shortfall while completely relying on its available indigenous renewable resources? Several innovative ideas from India and Austria have been considered with regards to how they might be replicated in Pakistan. Mr. Narandra Modi, Chief Minister of Indian State of Gujarat has installed solar panels on Narmada canal in order to generate carbon neutral electricity. In an interview with The Hindu Newspaper in India, the Chief Minister suggested that if 10% of the available potential is utilized properly, it would enable us to generate 2,200 megawatts (MWs) of clean electricity. The total length of canals in Pakistan is 62,648 Kilometers, whereas, no such green plan has been initiated so far. Pictures of the Narmada canal with solar panel installation are available at following link:

Similarly, solar trees have been installed in Vienna, Austria since 2007. These are basically street lamps in shape of trees with several branches and each branch carrying a solar lamp. It stores sunlight during the day which is then used for illumination at night. These lamps can be installed in the rural areas of Pakistan where almost 40,000 villages have no access to electricity according to an article published in Dawn Newspaper on 31 March 2011. Once successfully implemented in rural areas it could then be expanded to urban areas as well. These solar trees are completely off-gird while the ordinary street light operates on fossil fuel.

Another solution is pushed forward by Royal Philips Electronics which plans to install “100 lights centers” across rural Africa by 2015. Once completed, this project will improve energy poor communities’ access to clean electricity. As a result, their day will extend beyond sunlight. Further details are available at the link below:

It may seem insignificant but once implemented at a grass roots level, these and similar initiatives will bring about significant change. Likewise, the effective use of available space along motorways and national highways in Pakistan will provide land area for the installation of solar panels which can then be used for rural electrification. This project could be run in collaboration with China as both countries have timely tested friendship expanding over a period of 6 decades.

The initiatives mentioned above will not only lessen the country’s dependence on imported oil but will also reduce its overall carbon emissions. These strategies are simple and realistic, but strong political will is a pre-requisite for achieving this target. The solutions must also be taken to market using intelligent financial vehicles, such as micro-credits, that can carry a higher up-front cost whilst generating a secure pay back in the transition towards generating good annual revenue.

Ayoub Hameedi, Intern WWF Sweden

Climate Solver launched in India – the potential hotbed for climate innovation

Four new Indian Climate Solvers join the existing list of inspiring climate innovations:

Gram Power India - Smart Microgrid

Enfragy Solutions India - Bio-pellet based fuel efficient cookstove 

Green India Building Systems & Solutions (GIBSS) - Geothermal Building Cooling System

Toro Cooling Systems - Air to Air Heat Exchanger

WWF's Stefan Henningsson was at the launch and shares his experience with us here:

Holi, the Festival of Colors is now taking place in India, which seems like a reflection of the bright colors of climate and energy entrepreneurship I have seen on display during a fascinating week in India.

I have seen the poorest communities in Sunderbans that now have an association of solar empowered women creating new local business models. They are selling solar charged batteries to the local market, and in that way generating a steady income to an otherwise very poor village. You can now access printing and copying services at the local market as there is a steady stream of charged batteries available for local merchants to run laptops and printers.     

I have also participated in the first Climate Solver award ceremony in New Delhi. Four colorful entrepreneurs were chosen by the jury as examples of the growing number of SME solution providers with disruptive, resource efficient solutions and new business models. These examples bring into question the old thinking and common practice of wasting huge amounts of energy derived from fossil resources. The awards were part of a Business Response to Climate Change seminar co-organized by WWF, Confederation of Indian Industries, Carbon Disclosure Project and British High Commission.    

Suresh Prabhu, Chairman, Council for Energy, Environment & Water, honored the event with his presence and pointed out the importance of thinking in new ways in order to solve urgent environmental problems. Climate Solver is an example of this new way of thinking. He also pointed out the importance of water innovations and water efficiency as integral part of any solution for the future, especially in a country like India. 

The myriad of climate innovations coming from SMEs needs to be mainstreamed by corporates with the help of enabling policies and investments. As Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO for WWF India put it: “Innovation is typically a new way of doing something while increasing the value for a customer. WWF believes that this customer value must include radically reduced carbon emissions, energy access and compatibility with a transition to a renewable energy future.” A scenario of such a future is described in WWF’s Energy Report for 100% Renewable Energy globally by 2050. Achieving this is a quest for the corporate, investor and policy community where the disruptive solutions stemming from smaller game-changers will be key in creating this added value. 

I presented WWF’s view on the necessity of transitioning towards a 100% renewable energy future. I also presented India’s profile in Global Cleantech Innovation Index where India placed 6th out of the G20 countries, and was shown to have  the potential to become a true hotspot for cleantech innovation in the future. According to the index India’s booming economy, huge domestic market, good renewable resources and good ability to quickly scale up cleantech are all very promising though at the moment there are clear weaknesses at earlier stages of cleantech development.

Ashish Khanna, India Energy Team Leader at the World Bank, concluded his session with “India could become the hotbed for cleantech innovation”. The very latest market data on clean energy investments in India that came out after the event is of concern however. Clean energy investments in India fell 53% between 2011 and 2012 and are now at 6.3 billion dollars according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. If the Government incentive schemes are not reinforced and improved cleantech innovation potential of India is at risk.      

It was natural in our Climate Solver award launch in India to include and emphasis on energy access solutions. Over 400 million people in India, which is nearly half of those living in India’s rural areas, still have no access to electricity which is a key for sustainable development.

- Stefan Henningsson, Senior Adviser Climate Innovation, WWF

A Glimpse of the Rural Electrification Program in Kenya

Electricity is the backbone of socio-economic development of any country and is associated with provision of numerous services to people which directly enhances their quality of life. However, in today's world this situation becomes bit complex as not only continuous supply of electricity is important but it is equally essential to generate it in a green fashion. Kenya has, keeping these needs in mind, established Rural Electrification Authority (REA) under section 66 of Energy Act 2006 (No. 12 of 2006) with a vision to provide clean and green electricity to all rural areas in the country.

The total installed electricity generation capacity of Kenya at the moment is 1243 Mega Watts (MW) out of which 761 MW (65%) is generated through hydro power plants. Thermal electricity generation sources contribute 419.6 MW (30%), geothermal makes 163 MW (12%) and sugar factories contributes 26MW (1.9%) respectively. Since, Kenya is located across the equator; therefore, it has huge potential for utilizing solar energy as a source of electricity generation. Two main methods that are adopted in rural electrification program in Kenya are grid extensions (for integrated areas) and stand alone diesel operated / solar photovoltaic systems for areas located far from national grids. The master plan for the project was completed in 2009 in which 20,000 public installations were identified which were in need of electrification. Till now, 12,000 installations have been supplied with electricity. The details of the project are here.

The identified potential of various renewable energy resources are geothermal 7000 MW whereas the current installed capacity is only 163 MW. Similarly, over 80% of the total land area in Kenya can be utilized for electricity generation through photovoltaic solar panels. Almost 200,000 households in Kenya are currently seeking benefits from 12 – 20 watts of PV solar panels. The figure is increasing with an addition of 20,000 households per annum. By the end of june 2009, almost 189 institutions were supplied with electricity through 12 – 20 watts solar panels. Wind potential is estimated to be 346 Watts per meter square, small hydro potential is 3,000 MW and biomass collectively from different sources is 600 MW respectively.

The Government of Kenya is the basic supporter of this initiative. REA is currently focusing on developing framework for the promotion of photovoltaic solar panels among rural households and private sector and is open to have collaboration in this regard with foreign investors. This project is a practical example for the promotion of renewable energy sources at grass root level and the changes that it can bring into the lives of masses. However, the project still primarily relies on fund from government and foreign investors. There is a dire need to increase the market value of this project so that it would be able to generate revenue to sustain and grow further in years to come.

By guest blogger Ayoub Hameedi

Cleantech Group and Facebook Social Media Challenge

A new opportunity to gain attention for cleantech solutions -

The Cleantech Goes Social Contest aims to support the development of Facebook applications and new uses of Facebook’s billion-person network to encourage adoption of clean technologies, help individuals and companies reduce their environmental impact, and engage the public in further dialogue surrounding key sustainability challenges.

The winner of the contest will receive $25,000 in funding and personalized guidance from Cleantech Group and Facebook on how to maximize the impact of their idea.

Deadline for submissions March 4, 2013. Read more


The Seriousness of Failed Cleantech Commercialisation

Business Green blog “Can anyone defuse the carbon bomb?”  is important whilst scary reading referring to the new report Point of No Return study from Greenpeace and Ecofys, which argues that 14 giant "carbon bomb" fossil fuel projects that are currently in planning have the potential to drive up global emissions 20 per cent by 2020 on their own.

The five points brought up by James Murray are very important and valid points where point 5) The rewards for those who defuse the "carbon bomb" will be massive echos the existence of WWF Climate Solvers. Because we believe and even know that some solutions, entrepreneurs and companies must grow very, very fast for us to have a chance to combat climate change. This is why we must focus on enabling this rapid commercialisation, at early as well as later stages of cleantech business development.

What is also worrying in this context though is that the lack of ambition on climate change is starting to take it's toll also on the cleantech industry where several players that could reap massive rewards are being forced to cave in due to lack of policy and investor confidence. The public private partnership machinery to support solutions is failing to deliver at scale. Policy makers and investors must engage in a dialogue with those who have alternative and transformative solutions across sectors, and not stay stuck in a sector-by-sector I-will-change-as-little-and-slow-as-I-can-dialogue with incumbent industry sectors. Policy makers say business-as-usual (BAU) is not an option, yet what we see is BAU. And investors keep betting our pension funds on good old coal, oil and gas since they expect to get high returns on investments from the BAU way of thinking.   

Global clean energy investments actually fell 11% last year according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This happens at a time when we know it must at least triple or quadruple very quickly if we are to have a chance to combat global warming. At least if we should listen to the World Economic Forum Green Investment Report.

Some real suffering examples of the failure of cleantech commercialisation:

Hailed A123 systems advanced batteries and complete energy storage for ex for electrified vehicles have gone bankrupt as sufficient market demand has not appeared.

The winner of last year's Intersolar award and an earlier Climate Solver,  has now gone bankrupt. The technology combines solar power generation with the use of solar heat. It is the first concentrating PVT collector where priority is given to generating heat as well as electricity. The intersolar jury believed that the solution’s technical construction generated significantly higher yields than any previous systems. Now they are bankrupt. Liquidity issues made it impossible for the award winning company to pay a supplier, and there was no investor to jump in and save the day.

Unfortunately there are several more examples, and many more to come unless policy makers and investors wake up.

If we do not join forces to support our Climate Solvers so that they can grow rather than shrink, what chance do we have ? We must step up our ambition in order to reap the rewards of those who diffuse the "carbon bomb" which could be massive. And policy makers must understand that a top priority for supporting solution providers is to increase ambition on climate change. This creates markets as well as strong industrial policy support for the new strategic industries that are necessary to create a green economy.

Stefan Henningsson

Senior Adviser Climate Innovation