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PAKISTAN: Alternative energy to boost power generation

Islamabad, 18 December 2003 (IRIN) - About 100 homes in a small village near the capital, Islamabad, are to be supplied with solar power in the first of a series of endeavours to bring alternative or renewable energy resources into the national mainstream over the next decade, according to an official.

"We intend to use natural resources to generate alternative sources of energy," Air Marshal (retd) Shahid Hamid, the chairman of the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), told IRIN in his office at the prime minister's secretariat in Islamabad.

A mosque in Alipur Farash, a village nestling in the undulating countryside on the outskirts of Islamabad, had already been fitted with solar panels in a test run before at least 100 homes in the community were provided with the same equipment. "This is just the beginning. We plan to provide 1,000 homes in each province with electricity through solar energy. And this is all on a self-help basis: this is all being done through donations from the private sector," he said.

The AEDB's objective was to achieve a 10 percent share in the country's electrical power generation by 2010 by providing energy through alternative sources, Brig Dr Nasim A. Khan, an army scientist and the board's secretary, told IRIN in his office at the PM's secretariat.

"According to a new law that is going to be enforced soon, it will become mandatory for every new building and hotel to instal solar-powered hot-water geysers," he explained, adding that working papers had been signed with some countries to help facilitate the project. Also planned were projects focusing on power generation through windmills as well as hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to pollution-emitting petrol or diesel generators, he added.

Moreover, an educational project is planned which the AEDB intends to support, by way of a series of textbooks written by Khan to focus on teaching school children, upwards from grade six, as well as others studying at polytechnics, about the merits of renewable or alternative energy resources and ways of benefiting from them.

A wind-energy park was already functional in Rawalpindi, which lies just alongside Islamabad, and others were planned for Karachi, Khan said.

The AEDB was also looking for ways by which to improve the environment by investing time and resources towards finding less harmful means of power generation, Hamid stressed. "Just imagine the benefits of being able to generate power through renewable energy resources: apart from reducing a very obvious financial burden, it would help us to procure a healthier environment," he said.

Once electricity was supplied to villages and communities in areas outside the reach of grid-based power providers, a new social phenomenon would be witnessed, Hamid maintained. "Even attitudes would change once electricity reached a village or community in an area where there had been none previously," he said.

Theme (s): Environment,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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