Participants Grill Organizers on Major Lapses in Renewables Energy Study on Karachi

A seminar organized by the Islamabad-based private entity, Renewables First, intended to highlight the challenges and opportunities of renewable energy adoption in Karachi, turned into a platform for critical scrutiny over the significant gaps in study’s methodology and findings.

The report, focusing on the broader implications for the city’s energy sector, faced immediate skepticism from attendees due to its foundational lapses.

The study, marked by a disclaimer stating, “The information presented in this technical report is based solely on publicly available data and resources. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented herein, we (Renewable First) can not guarantee its completeness or timeliness. Readers are therefore advised that the conclusions and analyses drawn from the data are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, investment, or professional advice,” set the tone for the ensuing debate.

This upfront admission raised immediate concerns among seminar participants about the reliability and depth of the analysis and conclusions presented.

Held under the banner “Significance of Renewables for Karachi & Export Industry” the closed-door seminar saw a gathering of industry experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from the export and manufacturing sectors. They voiced their apprehensions over the study’s reliance on potentially outdated or incomplete data and the absence of a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process in its preparation.

During the event, which featured a wide range of speakers including, Shariq Raza – Chief Technical Officer at the Energy Department, Government of Sindh, Zulfiqar Ali Umrani – Head of Sustainability at Ziauddin University, and Tauseef Farooqi – Former Chairman of NEPRA, participants also raised queries on the former NEPRA’s 4-year tenure for failing to advance the integration of renewable energy into the national grid.

It was argued in the report that Pakistan has a huge potential to generate electricity from wind with estimates reaching around 50,000 MW while Karachi could not leverage this opportunity. Moreover, the report claimed that the global Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) for utility-scale wind and solar projects has drastically decreased in the past decade, and Pakistan has also witnessed substantial cost reductions in Renewables.

Challenging the feasibility of the report’s assertions, participants questioned the organizers on the practicality of relying entirely on renewable energy, given the inherent variability of weather conditions and the absence of power generation when renewable resources are not available, such as nighttime when Karachi hits another peak electricity demand. Another participant raised the steps taken by KE, also admitted in the NEPRA report, on the inclusion of a large-scale rooftop generation via net metering.

The power sector experts present also highlighted the need for a balanced energy mix that includes both renewable and conventional sources to ensure grid stability and continuous power supply. It was further emphasized that while the potential for wind and solar energy in Pakistan is significant, the transition to a fully renewable-based system requires careful planning, massive investment in energy storage solutions, and the development of a more resilient grid infrastructure to manage intermittency issues effectively.

On the other hand, the spokesperson of K-Electric took to social media and while refuting the misleading conclusions made in the report, said that their company “remains committed to achieving 30% renewables by 2030 in line with our (KE’s) submitted, publicly available plans developed based on ground dynamics, resources, and demand growth.”

He further added that the actual white paper was not shared until the unveiling event, because of which the company couldn’t share any perspective on the report.

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