Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the government has planned to convert buildings of all federal entities to solar power within the next four months, in a bid to slash the country's skyrocketing $27 billion fuel import bill.
Unveiling details, the prime minister said that the procedures for conversion to solar power should be fast-tracked as they had set April 2023 as the timeline for the implementation of this plan.
Addressing a solarisation conference in Islamabad, the prime minister said that under the plan, all the federal government ministries, departments, authorities and their offshoots in the provinces would immediately shift to solar energy.
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He said it would be a model for the rest of the provincial governments as the federal government would not make additional expenditures over the solarisation process.
The prime minister also urged all the relevant authorities and the stakeholders to complete the required process by the end of April to meet the timeline.
“Consider it as our political, social, national, and religious duty to implement it as soon as possible,” he said.
The prime minister said that, with these urgent measures, they would be able to generate 300MW to 500MW of low cost power, reducing the import bill by billions of dollars each year.
The prime minister assured that the whole process would be conducted through transparent bidding involving a third party.
He also urged the provincial chief ministers to emulate the federal government’s launched pattern and introduce solar systems in their respective provinces, assuring the federal government’s complete assistance in this regard.
“It is the only option of our survival as a nation,” he added.
The prime minister said that the process for the generation of 10,000MW solar power in the country had already commenced and the conversation of the federal government buildings would be the first phase.
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Enumerating the economic challenges faced by the country due to skyrocketing fuel and gas prices after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said that developing countries like Pakistan had to bear the brunt.
He said $27 billion costly fuel import bill was a big challenge for the countries like Pakistan, adding the ongoing conflict had also surged prices of gas and worsened its availability as the supply to Europe was disrupted.
The prime minister said during the Covid pandemic, the prices of gas were crashed to the lowest and it was sold at $2 per unit, the then government committed a criminal negligence by not securing its import and due to it, now the whole nation had been suffering.
He said during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, a 15-year agreement for the purchase of LNG at 13.2 per cent of the Brent was reached with Qatar, but unfortunately, it was politicised by the subsequent government.
Now due to the global situation, gas was not available while the fuel was being sold at an exorbitant price in the global market, he said, adding that they would have to convert to solar and renewable energy with lightning speed.
The prime minister said during the previous PML-N government, efforts were made for the production of cheap hydel electricity and land worth Rs100 billion was acquired for the construction of Bhasha dam, but those were long-term measures to generate affordable power in the country.
He said under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, coal and gas-fired projects were completed by the PML-N government during 2015 to overcome 20 hours crippling power outages in the country.
“The green lands were turned barren, industries came to grinding halt, and country’s exports were nosedived”, the prime minister recollecting the past said that in those trying times, former premier Nawaz Sharif remained firm and took the bull by the horns with setting up power plants and thus ended the load-shedding which was a big achievement, ‘something like the finest chapter in the history of the country, making the nation stronger.”