Saving electricity looks simple and easy. Take certain steps like switching off unnecessary lights at one’s home and using energy-efficient appliances and machines in an industry and one can save lots of energy. But one reason why it is not working in Pakistan is that the stakeholders do not seem to be listening, including the government.
While the rest of the world has long realised that we can save lots of electricity through energy conservation to cope with loadshedding, we are lagging so far behind, why?
If the government’s statements in the media and policies on the ground are any guide, energy generation, and not conservation, seems to be the priority for the PML-N policy makers. Energy conservation through energy-efficient machinery and equipment does not seem to be on the priority list of the policy makers in Pakistan.
Experts have estimated that Pakistan can save 1,100 megawatts of electricity, and even more, if its industries and households change their lifestyle and work habits. It is estimated that the industrial sector can save at least 10 per cent of their energy if they adopt energy conservation methods.
Since saving energy is also about people’s habits and behaviours, the concept of using smart technology must be made available to the people by the government through awareness campaigns and sensible pricing of energy conservation products.
Experts have stressed the need of adopting proper energy conservation methods besides developing avenues of wind and solar power generation initiatives.
Measures to encourage people to use energy more efficiently may include solar power finance assistance programmes, an awareness campaign about the benefits of fluorescent lamps, and introduction and implementation of energy-saving building codes.
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Analysts have identified the energy-saving potential of the industrial sector. The textile industry, for instance, can save upto 10-30 percent energy by adopting energy conservation methods while the marble industry can save from 5-8 per cent of the energy they use, according to one estimate.
On their part, governments in the past have tried to take certain measures like asking the business community to shut down the markets early in the night. But that did not produce results. The business community violated the move, claiming the move damaged their business. It was claimed by the experts in the previous governments that we can save upto 600MW of electricity if we close markets within one hour of sunset.
The mission statement of the government’s National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (NEECA) promises “Cultivating a new energy culture focusing on achieving sustainable development through conservation and efficient use of energy resources.”
So far, NEECA has played a role in getting the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2016 passed by the National Assembly and the Senate in July 2016. NEECA claims that the Act will ensure “enunciation of mechanisms and procedures” to provide for effective use of energy in all sectors of the economy. How will that work on the ground remains to be seen.