The Impact of 18th Amendment on the Energy Sector

The World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and Heinrich Bӧll Stiftung Pakistan (hbs) have been working together for the growth of Renewable Energy (RE) in Pakistan since 2013. In 2017 both partners are joining hands once more for holding RE Dialogues across Pakistan. Some of the main reasons of slower RE growth in Pakistan are lack of coordination between federal and provincial governments with regards to RE development, and lack of awareness among different federal and provincial agencies about their mandate relating to RE deployment especially, after 18th amendment to the Constitution. The RE dialogues assess institutional landscapes of RE at federal as well as provincial levels through engaging multi-stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector.

For the second workshop, experts from Punjab Energy Department, National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), private sector, civil society and academia assembled on October 04, 2017 in Lahore to discuss impacts of the 18th Constitutional Amendment on renewable energy sector of Pakistan in general and Punjab specifically. Mome Saleem, Program Coordinator, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, while extending welcome remarks briefed the participants about the global debate around RE and how hbs has been supporting the clean energy and energy transition movement all over the world. In Pakistan it is working on improving energy sector governance which seems to be one of the issues owing to which RE sector is moving at a slow pace. She added that it is important to adopt clean and affordable energy for social, economic and environmental reasons. In this regard she also spoke about the Paris Agreement as a landmark in climate negotiations. She emphasized on the fact that energy sector is one of the biggest contributors to climate change hence transition towards RE is pertinent to curb emissions.

Zeeshan Ashfaq, Policy Analyst for WWEA, discussed the preliminary findings of the study “Governance of Renewable Energy in Pakistan: Looking Ahead.” He stressed that structured and strategic dialogues remain essential for resolving issues among different stakeholders and for building bridges between the efforts of those actors. “By bringing together various actors at a single platform would help RE sector stakeholders avoid reiteration of efforts at the federal as well as at the provincial levels and help respective governments to take fair decisions in finding pathways to overcome impediments faced by the RE sector of Pakistan” , argued Ashfaq. He highlighted the concerns raised by the representatives of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government during the workshop in Peshawar which were also validated by the participants from Lahore. Absence of a national coordination plan and lack of expertise and resources at provincial levels, make it difficult for provinces to effectively implement the constitutional amendment with regard to electricity.

Additional Secretary, Energy Department, Government of the Punjab (GoPb), Zahid Mumtaz gave  an historical overview of the power sector situation in Pakistan and examined the energy sector situation pre- and post 18th Constitutional Amendment, apart from discussing RE development initiatives of GoPb. He said that with the promulgation of the amendment, the Concurrent List was abolished and the subject of electricity was placed in part ii of the Federal Legislative List. As a result the provinces became free to initiate power generation projects in excess of 50 megawatt (MW). Currently, 400 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are operational in Punjab with the support of the provincial government and it intends to generate 6700 MW from renewable sources in coming ten years. He was, however, critical of the limited grid evacuation capacity, project processing delays caused by operational issues and non-availability of reliable data on solar irradiation and wind potential in the province.

Representatives of NTDC questioned the reliability of RE in meeting growing energy demands of the country due to its variable and intermittent nature. Nevertheless, they said that the NTDC had been developing capacity to cope with the challenge of RE grid integration.

As in the previous workshop in Peshawar, during the last session, workshop participants from Lahore stressed on the need to overcome barriers faced by RE sector to accelerate RE deployment in the country. Sectoral experts recommended that roles and responsibilities of institutions at both provincial and federal levels should be clearly defined and a strategic plan must be devised for scaling up RE by engaging all the provinces and the federal government.

 The results and recommendations of the provincial workshops will be collated in the form of a research paper which will be launched at federal level with participants from the provinces.