The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan, announced on December 3, is a positive step, but it leaves much to be desired. Market and wedding hall operating hours have been reduced under the new policy, which should save some energy, according to the government. Inefficient appliances have also been made illegal by the government, saving the country Rs 62 billion per year.
If properly implemented with traders and businesses on board, this plan is not bad. It is critical that Pakistanis recognise the need for a lifestyle change in order to not only conserve energy but also improve their quality of life. However, the government must also implement comprehensive energy reforms, including encouraging clean and renewable energy policies that are not just on paper but are also simple and easy to implement for the general public.
The true source of all this nonsense is the government’s inability to reduce circular debt in the energy sector. The circular debt has now reached a staggering Rs 2.43 trillion, and this is the real issue to address. The government should also look into expanding energy distribution and transmission as well as managing line losses and preventing electricity theft.
When the budget was unveiled last year, many economic experts noted that, due to the global energy crisis, Pakistan would have to take strict measures to conserve energy, such as closing markets earlier, working during daylight hours, and allowing more work from home to save fuel consumption.
Initially, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made the mistake of adding one day of work at a time when our import bill was high and we needed to conserve energy and fuel. The decision was eventually overturned. Before announcing new policies, the government should conduct thorough research and consult with industry and the private sector. Electricity consumption must be reduced, not because we cannot generate enough electricity, but because we lack the funds to purchase the necessary fuel.
Pakistan’s economic situation is in crisis, which will take time to resolve. It will necessitate extensive planning and execution. It is also critical that, in light of the global energy and economic crises, Pakistan implement measures to manage both energy and the economy. With the IMF’s strict conditions, the cost of electricity, gas, and petroleum will rise, making it difficult for people to cope with such high inflation. The impact of climate change is clear after last year’s devastating floods.
Pakistan must take climate-friendly measures, one of the most important of which is to make the use of clean and green renewable energy widespread throughout the country. More efficient energy planning will also help to reduce the economic burden of circular debt. Wherever possible, all new housing societies must use alternative and renewable energy sources, such as solar plants.
When a new housing scheme is launched, like other infrastructure such as roads, water, and sanitation, it must include an energy plan that includes mandatory solar panel installations. The same is true for streetlights, which must be powered by solar panels rather than grid electricity. Many consumers have highlighted the red tape surrounding the solar policy.
Solar policy will benefit not only consumers but also the country’s climate change policy if it becomes more common. This is a national emergency, and all provincial governments must work together to reach an agreement. This is not the time to play political point-scoring games. This is also an emergency, a power outage.