Chinese provider playing increasingly pivotal role in Pakistan’s PV sector

By Wu Siya | China Economic Net Jul 11, 2022
CHENGDU, July 11 (China Economic Net)- “The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) plans to install about 9.7GW of renewable energy power generation systems throughout Pakistan by around 2030. The government’s strong support and policy continuity are strong guarantee of our business development,” noted President of Zonergy Solar Development, Pakistan Richard Guo, while taking an exclusive interview with the China Economic Net.
Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Masood Malik stated that the PM constituted a task force on solar energy initiatives with a vision to promote sustainable and green energy. The government is working on a comprehensive solar energy package comprising tax waivers and concessionary loans for consumers in a bid to overcome the prolonged power outages. As the Government of Pakistan strives to make transformational changes in the power system by exploring affordable alternative energy sources, Chinese companies are playing a leading role as installers and service providers for on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid energy in the country. Talha Azher, Vice President of Investment Banking, KASB Securities Limited, pointed out in a survey that the total foreign investment in photovoltaic plants of Pakistan is USD 144 million, of which the total Chinese investment in Pakistan reached USD 125 million. “If PV can be installed on every roof, those who suffer from heat and load shedding can generate their own electricity at least for the whole day,” the Minister further suggested.
Chinese provider playing increasingly pivotal role in Pakistan’s PV sector
The Zonergy large-scale ground PV power station [Photo provided to CEN]
A recent list issued by the Alternative Energy Development Board, Ministry of Energy showed that amongst the certified installers under AEDB (Certification) Regulations, 2021, Category C-1 (up to and above 500 kW), Chinese photovoltaics provider Zonergy (Tianjin) Company Limited, which has captured over 30 percent market share of distributed optical storage, is on top of the list of 84 companies.
According to Richard Guo, due to a huge power gap,  residential electricity prices remain high, Pakistan has a good market demand for large-scale ground power stations, industrial and commercial distributed power stations, as well as residential rooftop distributed power stations. At present, the first phase-3*100 MW project of the 9*100 MW large-scale ground PV power station contracted by Zonergy has been connected to the grid for power generation. As the largest new energy project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, since it was connected to the grid in 2016, it can generate approximately 500 million kWh of clean electricity every year, which can meet  the needs of 200,000 people, while the total carbon dioxide emission reduction reached 17.7 million tons. On the other hand, small PV modules have very broad application prospects in the vast rural areas. “The vast rural areas in the central and northwestern Pakistan are covered with PV water pumping projects ranging from 7.5KW to 30KW, and we have installed thousands of sets of products in these areas,” Guo told CEN.
Chinese provider playing increasingly pivotal role in Pakistan’s PV sector
Group photo of Chinese and Pakistani employees at the project site [Photo provided to CEN]
So far about 430 MW solar projects are operating and connected to the Pakistani grid. The Pakistani government expected that the scale of distributed renewable energy will reach 5-6 GW by 2030, accounting for 25 percent of the total energy. In addition, Pakistan has superior lighting conditions, a large number of villa-style houses and industrial plant roofs, and the overall high energy price. From any point of view, distributed PV have bright prospects.
“Exploration of the more indigenous renewable resources is the key to energy security,” pinpointed Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22. From a practical point of view, Pakistan still has a high dependence on traditional coal power generation. Nevertheless, whether it is to ensure national energy security or maintain the balance of international payments, there is no doubt that Pakistan needs to vigorously develop PV instead of further development of coal power, which is not conducive to reducing carbon emissions, and will consume a large amount of precious foreign exchange due to imported coal. 
Chinese provider playing increasingly pivotal role in Pakistan’s PV sector
Richard Guo (R4, front row) and project personnel from China and Pakistan [Photo provided to CEN]
Regarding the future prospects of new energy in Pakistan, Richard Guo pointed out that Pakistan has a complete four-level PV power generation system, including large-scale ground power stations, urban distributed, rural distributed, and portable devices. As per International Energy Agency Data shows that Pakistan’s potential exceeds the total requirement in the South Asian Region. “Pakistan has the potential to become the power center of South Asia based on PV and other new energy sources on the premise of further giving full play to the policy advantages of the CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative.”  
In addition to playing a role in energy, Zonergy has always actively fulfilled its social responsibilities. “We have signed a CSR agreement with the Ministry of Energy of Punjab Province to provide PV facilities and water purification systems for many local hospitals and schools,” said Guo, “moreover, Pakistan still facing the lack of technical talents for power station operation and maintenance. Through our efforts, more than 1000 PV engineers have been trained here. We will cooperate with universities to establish laboratories and set up internship positions to provide a platform for college students who are interested in PV industry and realize the sustainable development of the talent echelon.”
Chinese provider playing increasingly pivotal role in Pakistan’s PV sector
Pakistani employees maintaining PV panels [Photo provided to CEN]
“How to replace prevailing diesel engines with PV energy storage system? it is crucial for carbon reduction and making up for energy shortages in Pakistan. We intend to use sodium-ion batteries as an important storage device, which has more stable performance and lower cost as a kind of advanced technology. In general, in Pakistan’s 41GW energy structure, the proportion of new energy, especially PV, is still very small, so we can say that within 5 to 10 years, the PV industry undoubtedly has a brilliant future. In Pakistan, as a hot field, almost every PV exhibition is crowded, even more lively than various auto show. All of this contains huge opportunities,” Guo look forward to the future full of confidence.
Talha Azher emphasized that China has pledge to move away from coal-based energy generation and promote green energy widely in developing countries. Meanwhile, Pakistani government has set ambitious targets for PV capacity under the IGCEP of 2021. Therefore, Chinese companies can expect a supportive government attitude to investment in PV plants in Pakistan. Furthermore, removal of 17 percent GST would reduce the prices of solar panels. Since a significant portion of solar panels imports are from China, this will have a positive impact on the sales of Chinese PV companies doing business in Pakistan. 


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