Climate Change and Renewable Energy – Reflections on the Second Journalist Exposure Visit to the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur

In the year 2016 exposure visits for journalists are taking place. They are taken to projects that are meant to mitigate or adapt to climate change such as renewable energy and reforestation projects. Location visits, meetings with involved communities and the project implementers provide the background for analyses and reporting back in the newspaper. Journalists likewise act as a watchdog and spread awareness to further promote climate-friendly initiatives.

In recent years Asia has emerged as a global player with increased level of economic development. The mainstay of economies is agriculture, industries and resource extraction which has also increased the demand for energy. Moreover climate change has erupted as a threat to this development and the human life. In the wake of climate change it is necessary that mitigation and adaptation measures are thought through and implemented. Since energy is one of the necessities required to meet basic human needs the global use of fossil fuels to produce energy has increased over years leading to rapid growth in the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In this regard production of clean energy is thought to be a means to mitigate climate change. Renewable sources such as wind, solar, biogas, ocean, and hydro have lately been considered viable options.

Pakistan being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world has also started installing renewable energy projects.  Although Pakistan’s carbon foot print is below one ton per capita but the means to produce energy could increase the emissions in coming years (Tariq Hussain, September 2010). Therefore it is necessary to produce efficient and clean energy. Pakistan has setup various small and large renewable projects including small and large hydro, Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park (QASP) project etc., however the sector is developing slowly. 

It is pertinent to note that there is a keen interest in expanding the renewable projects in the country. In this regard Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park is Pakistan’s very first utility scale power plant. So far, 100 Mega Watt has been generated through this solar project and it is expected to generate 1000 Mega Watt by the end of 2018.  The project has 400,000 solar panels, spread over 5,000 acres in Cholistan, Punjab. Najam Ahmed Shah, the Chief Executive officer of QASP while speaking to DAWN newspaper representative (Faisal Ali Ghumman) said, “The plant is giving an average yield of 169 giga watt hours against the annual target of 153GW hours to meet 153 million units’ production requirements,” (DAWN, 5th November 2015)

One of the purposes of initiating this project is to reduce the dependence of energy production through fossil fuels and to utilize alternate ways. This project will contribute to reducing the GNG concentration in the atmosphere by discouraging use of fossil fuels. QASP goal is to secure the future through production of renewable energy which will provide cleaner and greener future for coming generations.

In the framework of it’s project “Journalist on Resource Equity and Climate Change”, on 17th March 2016, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Pakistan took 6 journalists from print and electronic media to Qaid-i-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur. The purpose was to build capacity of the journalists on the subject of climate change and renewable energy. The visit enabled them to address specific questions in this regard. The group was first given an orientation on the importance of renewable energy projects to mitigate climate change by Rina Saeed Khan, followed by site visit of both completed and under construction sectors of the QAS projects. The media representatives were given a chance to interact with the technical staff from Pakistan and representatives of the Chinese investors; ZonEnergy.  They were able to interact on issues ranging from the installed capacity of the power plant and its actual production, livelihood generated by the power plant (e.g. labor for installation of panels) and maintenance of the plant’s infrastructure. Future investments and selling of Solar Park to the investors was also among the discussion points.

The impressions of the visit are reflected in the following articles and reports prepared by the participating journalists.

Report By Khalid Jamil AB TAK TV.mp4

Power 99 Report on Solar Park by Asma Sulman.mp3

Pakistan Goes Solar  Report by Aljazeera

Earthly matters: Sun salutations  DAWN NEWS