Energy-short Pakistan moves to power up solar manufacturing

Updated 29 January 2019
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Energy-short Pakistan moves to power up solar manufacturing

  • A new government budget bill seeks to give renewable energy manufacturers and assemblers in the country a five-year exemption from the taxes
  • Only about 5 to 6 percent of the power to Pakistan’s national electrical grid currently comes from renewable energy

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government has proposed to eliminate taxes associated with manufacturing of solar and wind energy equipment in the country, in an effort to boost the production and use of renewable power and overcome power shortages.
A new government budget bill, expected to be approved in parliament within a month, would give renewable energy manufacturers and assemblers in the country a five-year exemption from the taxes.
“Pakistan is paying the heavy cost of an ongoing energy crisis prevailing for the last many years,” Finance Minister Asad Umar said last week in a budget speech.
“In this difficult time, the promotion of renewable energy resources like wind and solar has become indispensable.”
Only about 5 to 6 percent of the power to Pakistan’s national electrical grid currently comes from renewable energy, according to the country’s Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB).
The proposed tax reduction should boost that by encouraging greater local manufacturing of equipment needed for renewable power expansion, said Asad Mahmood, a renewable energy expert with the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, which sits within the Ministry of Energy.

Remaining hurdles
But manufacturers said the tax breaks likely would not be sufficient to spur expansion of local renewable energy industries.
Naeem Siddiqui, the chairman of Ebox Systems, which assembles solar panels in Islamabad, said the new tax breaks were good news but Pakistani manufacturers would still struggle compete with tax-free, low-priced imports of foreign-built solar panels and other renewable energy equipment.
“The government has already waived off taxes and duties on the import of renewable energy products, and local manufacturers cannot compete with the low-priced imported items,” he said.
Pakistan today imports more than 95 percent of the solar panels and other renewable energy systems it uses, largely from China, said Aamir Hussain, chief executive officer of Tesla PV, one of the largest manufacturers of solar energy products in Pakistan.
“As long as the government will not impose duties on the import of finished products, the local market cannot grow,” he said.
Pakistani manufacturers also might need government help in pushing sales of new Pakistani clean energy products abroad, in order to build bigger markets and lower manufacturing costs, Siddiqui said.
Mahmood, of the energy ministry, said he believed the government would also move to cut existing duties on the import of components used in manufacturing finished renewable energy products, in order to help Pakistani manufacturers.
Taxes on those components have pushed up prices of Pakistani-made renewable energy systems, making them harder to sell and leading several companies to the brink of failure, he said.
Local manufacturers should work with the government to determine which components should be manufactured locally and which imported to ensure costs of locally made wind and solar systems are competitive, he said.
Muhammad Abdur Rahman, managing director of Innosol, a company that imports and installs renewable energy systems, said that cheap imports of renewable energy systems from China remain the main barrier to building more such systems in Pakistan.
“The local industry is facing pricing issues because of low-quality solar energy appliances being imported in the country that are very cheap as compared to the local market,” he said.
That might be resolved in part by the government starting a certification system for renewable energy products to grade them according to quality, he said.
Amjad Ali Awan, chief executive officer of the Alternate Energy Development Board, said the aim of the new policies was for renewable energy to supply 28 to 30 percent of the country’s national electrical grid by 2030.


Bahrain LNG terminal to start commercial operations in May

Updated 24 sec ago
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Bahrain LNG terminal to start commercial operations in May

  • Bahrain LNG is the developer of the receiving and regasification terminal within the Khalifa bin Salman Port facility in Hidd

DUBAI: Bahrain’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal will start commercial operations in May, with the first LNG shipment to be imported mostly from the UAE’s ADNOC, state media quoted the CEO of Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) as saying.
Bahrain LNG is the developer of the receiving and regasification terminal within the Khalifa bin Salman Port facility in Hidd, Bahrain, Bahrain LNG’s website says.
The terminal also houses an offshore LNG receiving jetty and breakwater, a regasification platform, subsea gas pipelines from the platform to shore, an onshore gas receiving facility, and an onshore nitrogen production facility, according to the website.
Bahrain’s first LNG floating storage unit is anchored in the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah port, Refinitiv Eikon data shows.
The storage unit is expected to arrive at the Hidd terminal in May, Bahrain News Agency quoted NOGA chief executive Jassem al Shirawi as saying on Monday.
The report did not specify the overall shipment amount, a small part of which Chevron will deliver later.
The terminal is more than 98 percent ready and the trial period will last only a few weeks, he told the news agency.
“Bahrain has signed agreements with more than 25 companies and gas-producing countries from around the world to import LNG,” al Shirawi was quoted as saying.
The LNG import terminal, with a capacity of 800 million cubic feet per day, will allow Bahrain to import the super-chilled fuel as demand grows for natural gas to feed large industrial projects, generate power and produce oil.