Zardari for out of box solutions to meet energy needs

* USAID to build 150MW wind power plant in Sindh

* President calls for phasing out of gas geysers in government buildings

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari, on Tuesday, called for stepping up search for an out of the box, imaginative and bold solutions to meet the country’s energy needs by recourse to alternate sources of energy.

The president made the call while presiding over a meeting on “Alternate Energy Options” at the Bilawal House. The meeting was one of many he presided during the day. Zardari said wind and solar power should be exploited to meet the country’s growing energy needs. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, relevant federal and provincial ministers and senior officials attended the meeting.

Briefing the journalists on the meetings, president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar, said that the meeting was informed that the USAID had agreed to build a 150MW wind power plant in the coastal areas of Sindh to augment power generation. It was also informed about the status of land allocation for new wind power projects being undertaken by private investors.

The president said that Pakistan offered promising opportunities for massive investment in new sources of energy, particularly in the development of wind and solar energy. Emphasising greater utilisation of alternate energy sources, he asked for provision of solar and wind power to all houses being built in the rural areas of Sindh under the Benazir Behan Basti Programme.

Zardari said that gas and electricity geysers should eventually be phased out of the government buildings in order to save gas for diversion to more productive uses during winters. The president directed that all new streetlights should be solar/LED based and billboards and neon signs should be powered with solar energy. He called for setting up of special industrial hubs in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, based on wind power that is harnessed in these areas.

Zardari directed stepping up of work on wind power projects and called for issuance of letter of support (LoS) to firms that have evinced interest and completed the initial formalities. He said that the business friendly and liberal investment policies of the government in key sectors like power generation, transportation and infrastructure have resulted in attracting significant foreign direct investment in the country.

A meeting on the proposed Turkey-Pakistan fast track cargo train was informed that the technical feasibility of the project had been completed and efforts were afoot to involve the private sector in financing the project. Zardari called a special meeting next week with private entrepreneurs and investors of stock exchanges to discuss raising finances for the project through stock exchanges of the country. Emphasising the upgradation of the existing rail link to cut the travel time between the two countries, the president said that it would open up vast European and Asian markets to not only Pakistan and Turkey but also of all people in the region. app