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High investment in renewable energy has future

High investment in renewable energy has future

Interview with Mr. Kalim A. Siddiqui — energy sector expert 

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please.

Kalim Siddiqui: I am a former Managing Director of Pakistan State Oil and former President of Byco Petroleum. I am holding a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of Bradford in England (UK) and a Master’s in Chemistry from Karachi University, has broad-based, global experience working in the USA, UK, Australia, Vietnam and Pakistan for over 36 years.

I am an enthusiastic and highly accomplished executive with 36 years of extensive fuels/lubricants business expertise in marketing, sales, operations management and system re-engineering in the oil industry by running supply chains, streamlining processes, hunting for new business and growing top producing accounts with having experience of developed and emerging markets/cultures. I am a collaborative Leader with the aptitude to achieve change, excite the organization, infuse new ideas and deliver dramatic, bottom-line outcomes; recognize to accomplish multiple customer-specific priorities with competence, exemplary follow-up and interpersonal abilities provided I am highly expert in high-level market segments, top-down selling and vertical market mastery.

I have served as Chairman Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) and have held directorships in various reputable companies and professional and educational institutes including Pakistan Refinery Limited, Pak-Arab Pipeline Company, Asia Petroleum Limited, Pak-Grease Manufacturing Company Limited, Petroleum Institute of Pakistan, Pakistan Advertisers Society and Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Before joining PSO in 2001, I served in Caltex (now Chevron) for over 20 years locally as well as internationally. International assignments were located in the USA, Australia and Vietnam. In a longer spell of over 20 years in Caltex, I have dealt with fuels, lubes and LPG in all aspects like product development, product engineering, supply chain, operations, production/manufacturing and sales/marketing.

My three years of work in the UK was with Howden Engineering Company, Burmah-Castrol refinery, North West Water Authority and A.P.V Company before coming back to Pakistan in 1980.

PAGE: What is your take on the success of renewables and alternative energy in Pakistan?

Kalim Siddiqui: Renewables and alternative energy has been on the rise globally over the past few years, and this trend is set to continue in Pakistan. For a country like Pakistan, which is stricken by chronic energy shortages, renewable energy has the potential to play an essential role in the future. However, renewable and alternative energy projects have encountered several challenges in Pakistan, notably the need for more infrastructure and regulatory uncertainty. To overcome these challenges, policymakers must develop a clear understanding of the opportunities and constraints associated with renewables.

PAGE: Could you tell us about the cost and benefits of solar energy?

Kalim Siddiqui: Solar power is said to be green since, in contrast to other sources of energy, it does not emit any pollutants into the atmosphere, whether it is produced or consumed. Nowadays, more and more people are switching to solar power not only because it is a green source of energy, but also because it is becoming less expensive and more efficient than it originally was. Thanks to technological developments we are now able to convert solar energy into heating or electricity.

While the use of solar energy has been growing exponentially in the last twenty years, the prices of PV cells (Photovoltaic cells) have been dropping. Currently, the price of each PV cell is 99% lower than it was in 1976. Moreover, because solar energy is such an environmentally-friendly solution, many governments are offering grants and incentives for the installation of panels. Based on current average electricity costs, and assuming modest inflation of energy prices, the payback period should be between 8 and 10 years.

Benefits of Solar Energy:

It Is clean: When active, solar power releases no harmful substances or noise into the atmosphere. For each megawatt hour of electricity, solar energy produces about 0.75 to one tonne of CO2.

 It is Free: Once the mechanism for generating solar power is installed, heating or electricity from the solar system is totally free. This will help you reduce your bills and at the same time lower your household’s carbon footprint. It works everywhere: Although solar panels’ efficiency increases proportionally to the amount of sunshine they receive, they can work everywhere, even when it is cloudy. Moreover, adding a solar battery storage system to your solar system can enable you to enjoy free energy anytime, even at night and on other low-functioning days.

PAGE: What is your perspective about government incentives for alternative energy in Pakistan?  

Kalim Siddiqui: In my view, the Government of Pakistan has not given enough incentives to the renewable and alternative energy sector to promote these sources for the benefit of the country. However, the federal government has proposed eliminating customs duty on solar panels and its related equipment in the recent budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 in an effort to promote power generation using alternative energy sources.  

PAGE: What is your standpoint about investment in the business of alternative energy technologies in Pakistan?  

Kalim Siddiqui: Pakistan has tremendous potential to generate solar and wind power as well as nuclear. According to the World Bank, utilizing just 0.071 percent of the country’s area for solar photovoltaic (solar PV) power generation would meet Pakistan’s current electricity demand.

The country needs to incentivise adequately enough to attract investors. Furthermore, federal and provincial governments need to make the investment environment simple for the local/foreign so that medium/large projects are installed.

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