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Professor Dr. Syed Javaid Khurshid

The writer is a distinguished figure in science communication and diplomacy, has a 40-year background with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Notable for his roles in various scientific organizations, including former President of the Pakistan Nuclear Society, he is engaged in areas such as CBRN mitigation, ethics, nuclear knowledge management, and nuclear technology for achieving SDGs. Dr. Khurshid is also involved in science communication and diplomacy, holding positions in international organizations, Consultant OIC COMSTECH and International editorial boards, and advisory boards, showcasing a multifaceted commitment to advancing science in OIC member states and global collaboration. E-mail: [email protected]

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Hilal English

Sustainable Energy Transition: Strategies for Pakistan’s Shift towards Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency

April 2024

Pakistan must diversify energy sources, embracing cleaner alternatives for long-term security. The imperative to reduce dependence on economically unviable fossil fuels, especially coal, is crucial not only for the environment but also as an economic strategy. Shifting to renewables is estimated to yield significant financial savings, aligning with the global trend towards cleaner technologies and ensuring a more resilient and environmentally responsible energy approach.



The transition towards sustainable energy marks a departure from conventional fossil fuel reliance towards environmentally friendly alternatives such as wind, solar, and nuclear power. These discussions not only offer essential solutions but also innovative technologies and concepts geared towards achieving low-carbon objectives in alignment with United Nations (UN) emissions targets. In 2023, the global energy landscape witnessed a notable transformation, characterized by a remarkable 50 percent surge in renewable electricity capacity, soaring to 510 gigawatts—an extraordinary milestone akin to the output of over 840 coal plants1. This surge signifies tangible advancement within the renewable energy sphere, heralding a promising epoch of cleaner, more eco-conscious power generation on a global scale. The substantial increase in capacity serves as a beacon of optimism, bolstering collective endeavors towards a greener, more sustainable future.


In 2023, the global energy landscape witnessed a notable transformation, characterized by a remarkable 50 percent surge in renewable electricity capacity, soaring to 510 gigawatts—an extraordinary milestone akin to the output of over 840 coal plants.


Sustainable energy embodies enduring qualities, such as wind turbines drawing power from an infinitely available source, contrasting with finite traditional resources. It is vital in reducing reliance on nonrenewable fuels dominating global energy production. The transition requires understanding the environmental impacts of fossil-based systems, which contribute to climate change, air pollution, and resource depletion. Shifting towards renewables addresses the finite nature of traditional resources and mitigates their adverse effects, which are crucial for tackling climate change. Urgent efforts are needed to move towards cleaner, sustainable energy sources to ensure a resilient planet and address the far-reaching consequences of fossil fuel dependence.
Wind, solar, and lithium-ion batteries drive sustainable energy, with wind turbines capturing kinetic energy for perpetual, clean electricity. Solar power, using photovoltaic cells (PV), diminishes reliance on traditional grids. Lithium-ion batteries ensure consistent power from renewables, forecasting a USD 230.4 billion global market by 2031 with a 22.1 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)2. This growth stems from a renewable focus, electric vehicle expansion, and demand for sustainable power storage. As the world transitions to cleaner energy, lithium-ion batteries play a vital role in storing renewable electricity, propelled by the electric vehicle market's rapid rise. Technological advancements and battery chemistry innovations contribute to robust market growth. Continuous efforts to enhance energy density, lifespan, and safety broaden lithium-ion battery applicability across sectors. The increasing adoption of electric vehicles and integration of renewables into power grids are set to sustain and elevate the lithium-ion battery market.
The scope of renewable and sustainable energy transition extends beyond the mere replacement of energy sources; it encompasses a broader vision of fostering innovation, technological advancements, and policy frameworks conducive to a low-carbon future. This transition is aligned with the UN's global emissions targets, emphasizing the need for a concerted and coordinated effort on a global scale. As the world grapples with the intricate challenges posed by climate change, the transition to sustainable energy assumes greater significance. The global community must collaboratively explore, adopt, and implement alternative energy sources to avoid the environmental pitfalls associated with fossil-based systems. The urgency of this transition is underscored by the escalating consequences of climate change, including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) marked a pivotal moment in 2023, declaring it one of the three warmest years ever recorded, highlighting the global impact of climate change. This report served as a stark reminder of humanity's lasting impact on the planet. The sustainable energy transition is a critical juncture in global energy systems, emphasizing renewable sources and environmental mitigation for a sustainable future. Renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower contrast with finite counterparts due to their inherent sustainability, addressing concerns about nonrenewable resources. The ongoing reliance on fossil fuels accelerates environmental damage and resource depletion, emphasizing the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy. In 2022, renewable energy supply, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and ocean sources, increased by almost 8 percent, raising their global energy supply share to 5.5 percent. Modern bioenergy also saw a 0.2 percentage point increase, reaching a 6.8 percent share in 20223.
Sustainable energy sources' reliability depends on the perpetual availability of natural elements. Wind turbines capture wind energy, solar panels harness sunlight, geothermal systems utilize Earth's internal heat, and hydropower depends on continuous water flow. This reliability significantly contributes to the discourse on energy sustainability, reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels. Beyond environmental concerns, sustainable energy positively impacts public health by emitting fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, leading to improved air quality. This reduction in pollutants addresses health issues associated with traditional energy sources, particularly respiratory diseases caused by smog. The link between environmental benefits and public health highlights the multifaceted advantages of adopting sustainable energy practices. Annually, 6.7 million premature deaths are attributed to air pollution, with approximately 2.4 billion people using polluting fuels for cooking and heating, resulting in 3.2 million premature deaths annually due to household air pollution4.


Nestled in the heart of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park emerges as a beacon of progress and sustainability, symbolizing the nation's steadfast commitment to embracing renewable energy solutions.


The intersection of environmental and financial considerations drives the transition to sustainable energy. Declining costs of renewables, particularly wind and solar power, enhance their global competitiveness. This economic alignment makes sustainable energy an economically prudent and environmentally responsible choice for individuals and organizations. Solar energy, with an 89 percent cost reduction in PV modules since 2010, has become a forefront solution, accessible globally and crucial in the shift towards a greener future. As solar power gains prominence, its positive impact on the economy and the environment becomes evident, paving the way for a more sustainable energy paradigm. Integrating sustainable energy into daily life involves transitioning to utility providers offering renewable sources and empowering individuals to choose clean and sustainable energy. Although there are certain disadvantages, such as upfront costs for governments and large organizations, these challenges are addressed through incentive programs and policies promoting the widespread adoption of renewable energy.
Pakistan faces significant challenges in its energy sector and is urgently aiming for a strategic shift to sustainable and renewable resources. With a commitment to achieving 30 percent of its electricity capacity from solar and wind power by 2030, as per the World Bank Report 2021, the country currently lags at a mere 5 percent installed capacity, requiring substantial expansion. Heavy reliance on fossil fuels, particularly natural gas and oil, poses sustainability and environmental challenges. To address this, Pakistan must diversify energy sources, embracing cleaner alternatives for long-term security. The imperative to reduce dependence on economically unviable fossil fuels, especially coal, is crucial not only for the environment but also as an economic strategy. Shifting to renewables is estimated to yield significant financial savings, aligning with the global trend towards cleaner technologies and ensuring a more resilient and environmentally responsible energy approach.
As per the 2022 annual report from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), Pakistan's overall power generation capacity is 43,775 megawatts (MW). This capacity is distributed with 59 percent sourced from thermal (fossil fuels), 25 percent from hydro, 7 percent from renewable (wind, solar, and biomass), and 9 percent from nuclear energy5. The Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019 and the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP 2047) delineate the foundational pillars of policy support. These frameworks provide a roadmap for policymakers and stakeholders, guiding the nation's energy transition trajectory. Sustained investment in renewable energy projects becomes pivotal, constituting a linchpin for the successful implementation of these policies.
Nestled in the heart of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park emerges as a beacon of progress and sustainability, symbolizing the nation's steadfast commitment to embracing renewable energy solutions. This monumental project, boasting a formidable capacity of 1,000 megawatts, not only stands as a testament to Pakistan's vision for a greener and more sustainable future but also exemplifies the transformative power of solar energy on a grand scale. The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park is an economic catalyst, fostering job creation and attracting investments in the burgeoning renewable energy sector. The ripple effects of this colossal initiative extend beyond its immediate environmental benefits, positively impacting local communities and driving socioeconomic development.
While the current emphasis is on solar and wind power, the broader spectrum of renewable resources demands attention. Nuclear energy, hydropower, and biomass present additional avenues for diversification, contributing to a robust and resilient energy portfolio. Incorporating these resources into the national energy strategy will enhance sustainability and fortify Pakistan's energy security. The Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Pakistan exemplifies the country's commitment to sustainable energy. This ambitious Indus River project significantly enhances electricity generation, contributing substantially to the national grid. Aligned with global clean energy efforts, the dam responsibly addresses Pakistan's growing energy needs. Such projects extend beyond infrastructure development, embodying a broader vision for a greener, more sustainable energy sector. They harness hydropower potential, paving the way for a resilient and ecologically conscious energy paradigm.


As the world grapples with the intricate challenges posed by climate change, the transition to sustainable energy assumes greater significance. The global community must collaboratively explore, adopt, and implement alternative energy sources to avoid the environmental pitfalls associated with fossil-based systems.


The economic viability of renewable energy projects becomes apparent when considering the potential savings and job creation opportunities. The economic landscape stands to benefit from reduced dependence on costly fossil fuel imports, leading to a more self-sustaining and economically resilient energy sector. Moreover, the expansion of renewable energy sources opens up new avenues for employment, particularly in the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure.
The emergence of green hydrogen production presents a fresh prospect for Pakistan to tackle its energy shortfall and diminish reliance on fossil fuels. With ample potential for green hydrogen production, Pakistan stands poised to emerge as a frontrunner in harnessing and utilizing this environmentally friendly energy source, provided appropriate policies and investments are in place. Establishing a green hydrogen ecosystem within Pakistan promises to generate employment opportunities, foster economic expansion, and facilitate the nation's transition towards a low-carbon economy.
The bright future of Pakistan's renewable energy sector has the potential to transform the nation's energy landscape and drive substantial economic growth. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the industry will create 100,000 jobs by 2030, indicating significant workforce expansion and broader societal impact. Embracing cleaner energy solutions will address unemployment and position Pakistan at the forefront of the global push for sustainability. This transformative potential highlights the numerous benefits the renewable energy sector offers, creating a win-win scenario for the workforce and the nation's socioeconomic fabric.
Pakistan, in its Updated NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) (2021), has set a cumulative ambitious aim of conditional and voluntary contributions of an overall 50 percent reduction of its projected emissions by 2030, with a 15 percent drop below ‘business as usual’ (BAU) from the country's resources, and an additional 35 percent drop below BAU subject to international financial support. The transition to renewable energy is a significant component of it. As per the NDC document, by 2030, 60 percent of all energy produced in the country will be generated from renewable energy resources, including hydropower. This cost of energy transition alone would require USD 101 billion by 2030 and an additional USD 65 billion by 2040, on account of completing the in-progress RE (renewable energy) projects, additional hydropower, transmission, and phasing out of coal and replacing with hydropower (Pak NDC 2021).
The success of Pakistan's sustainable energy transition also hinges on the integration of innovative grid technologies and energy storage solutions. Smart grids enhance the efficiency of electricity distribution, enabling better management of variable energy sources like solar and wind. Concurrently, advancements in energy storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, facilitate the seamless integration of renewable energy into the grid infrastructure.
In the context of climate change policy in Pakistan, provincial strategies are crucial, with Punjab leading proactive efforts. Facing challenges from climate change, particularly extreme heat events and flood risks, Punjab integrates climate considerations into its planning to enhance resilience and implement adaptation strategies. Adopting a holistic approach, the province focuses on sustainable agriculture, afforestation, and water conservation. The Punjab Climate Change Policy, supported by a substantial budget of PKR 3 billion, serves as a landmark achievement, guiding the province in addressing climate-related issues. The ongoing development of the Punjab Climate Change Action Plan ensures dynamic and responsive measures, reflecting the province's commitment to sustainable development and resilience against climatic shifts.
Energy plays a pivotal role in a country's development, especially in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to poverty alleviation. The urgent challenge the scientific community faces are developing affordable, reliable, and greenhouse gas-free energy sources. A comparison of the global energy mix with Pakistan's highlights the need for transformative action to ensure access to affordable, continuous, and environmentally sustainable energy. Currently, 40 percent of people globally lack access to clean cooking facilities, leading to widespread consequences for public health, the environment, and socioeconomic well-being. Addressing these disparities is critical for a resilient and sustainable future, necessitating prioritized initiatives for equitable and clean energy access in the global development landscape.
Pakistan’s Energy Conservation Efforts 
Following the approval of the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation (NEEC) Policy 2023, a National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Action Plan (2023-30) has been formulated. This plan delineates 29 priority actions categorized across six areas: industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, energy, and cross-cutting domains. Projected to achieve savings of 9 Mtoe cumulatively by 2030, the Action Plan also identifies an investment potential of USD 8 billion. At 2022 prices, the cumulative financial savings by 2030 are estimated to be USD 6.4 billion. Moreover, specific savings are anticipated to extend to 2050, facilitating an economic transition towards net-zero emissions if the government opts to pursue this path in the coming eight years. The average payback period for the prioritized actions is less than eight years, aligning well with the targeted timeline 2030. 
Policy Takeaway for Sustainable Energy Transition Strategies for Pakistan
In Pakistan, an estimated 50 million individuals inhabiting rural and semi-urban locales experience a deficiency in access to electricity, thereby amplifying the nation's role in exacerbating global climate change dynamics. Notably, Pakistan's placement at 107th out of 120 countries in the sustainable Energy Transition Index (ETI) underscores an urgent imperative for substantive reform initiatives. As articulated within the national policy framework, the overarching objective entails a transition whereby 60 percent of the nation's energy production derives from renewable sources and integrating electric vehicles to constitute 30 percent of the automotive fleet. This strategic trajectory delineates a concerted effort toward mitigating carbon emissions and fostering sustainable energy practices within the national context. Key strategies for the future include:
▪  Implementing mini and micro-grids powered by renewable energy and SMRs.
▪  Facilitating the establishment of community-owned mini-grids by providing accessible financing, equipment, and technical support.
▪  Exploring collaboration opportunities with other international organizations to amplify project impact.
▪  Developing a comprehensive policy framework for industrial decarburization.
▪  Evaluating the impact of government policies, regulations, and incentives on promoting low-carbon technologies and practices in the industrial sector.
▪  Identifying opportunities to leverage existing policies supporting renewable energy adoption in various institutions such as universities, hospitals, and industries like sugar and cement.
▪  Assessing the feasibility of utilizing biomass as a renewable energy source in rural areas.
▪  Promoting the adoption of environmentally friendly technologies nationwide.
▪  Encouraging the widespread adoption of electric vehicles to significantly reduce airborne emissions, as well as Pakistan’s oil import bill.


The writer is a distinguished figure in science communication and diplomacy, has a 40-year background with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Notable for his roles in various scientific organizations, including former President of the Pakistan Nuclear Society, he is engaged in areas such as CBRN mitigation, ethics, nuclear knowledge management, and nuclear technology for achieving SDGs. Dr. Khurshid is also involved in science communication and diplomacy, holding positions in international organizations, Consultant OIC COMSTECH and International editorial boards, and advisory boards, showcasing a multifaceted commitment to advancing science in OIC member states and global collaboration.
E-mail: [email protected]


1.      “Executive Summary–Renewables 2023–Analysis.” n.d. IEA. https://www.iea.org/reports/renewables-2023/executive-summary. 
2.      Research, Straits. n.d. “Lithium Market Growth, Forecast & Analysis by 2031.” Straitsresearch.com. Accessed March 14, 2024. https://straitsresearch.com/report/lithium-market.
3.      International Energy Agency. 2023. “Renewables-Energy System.” IEA. 2023. https://www.iea.org/energy-system/renewables. ‌ 
4.      World Health Organisation. 2022. “Household Air Pollution and Health.” Who.int. World Health Organization: WHO. November 28, 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/household-air-pollution-and-health.
5.      “NEPRA Annual Report, 2022-2023” n.d. www.nepra.org.pk. https://www.nepra.org.pk/publications/Annual%20Reports/Annual%20Report%202022-23.pdf. ‌  

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Professor Dr. Syed Javaid Khurshid

The writer is a distinguished figure in science communication and diplomacy, has a 40-year background with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Notable for his roles in various scientific organizations, including former President of the Pakistan Nuclear Society, he is engaged in areas such as CBRN mitigation, ethics, nuclear knowledge management, and nuclear technology for achieving SDGs. Dr. Khurshid is also involved in science communication and diplomacy, holding positions in international organizations, Consultant OIC COMSTECH and International editorial boards, and advisory boards, showcasing a multifaceted commitment to advancing science in OIC member states and global collaboration. E-mail: [email protected]

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