When will electricity be free?

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Inam ur Rahman CEO, Dawood Hercules Co. Ltd. Some amazing stuff has happened in the world of renewable energy. Almost a month ago, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA – was able to secure a solar tariff of 2.99 Us Cents per Kilowatt hour of electricity from a private developer for a 800MW Solar project. This was not only unprecedented but remarkably came just a year after the earlier project at 5.85 cents was deemed unfeasible by most market players. In an interesting twist, all major players bid less than 5 cents in this phase – and all of this is unsubsidized. What is happening? Is everyone going crazy? This is the cheapest energy available anywhere in the world. Even DEWA has a Coal contract at a much higher price. The next step, I guess is that Electricity will become free.

And Solar is not the only technology with such compelling rates. Wind energy is almost at the same level in certain markets. What is even more interesting is that developed economies are now leading the way by actively replacing thermal plants with renewable energy. They are doing it because it just makes good business sense.

Portugal electricity consumption was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday this year. Germany was almost completely (95%) on renewables on May 11 this year. Yes these guys have figured out a way to forecast winds and sunlight to the extent that they can manage impact of intermittent generation. Despite crashing oil prices, the maximum investment in the world in new generation in 2015 was in Renewables.

Sadly Pakistan is falling behind the times on both Wind and Solar. Especially solar is considered unreliable in a country where we have good quality sunlight more than 300 days a year. There is something seriously wrong. I refuse to believe that a nation which is ready to embrace the latest technology in mobile communications and satellite television would not take the leading position in renewables as well. We have everything going for us and the cheapest and most widely available energy source is being wasted on a daily basis.
Governments all over the world have put in regulations and facilities to integrate solar generation in to their national grids. Till our government takes a proactive approach, we will still be burning oil and coal whilst the rest of the world enjoys free electricity from the sun. Or better still – if the Pakistan government deregulates this sector, then the private sector and entrepreneurs will ensure that we are actually rid of load shedding by the time the next elections come around.

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