Access to Energy: Exploring Alternative Energy Options in Karachi
The energy crisis in Pakistan is starting to take a serious toll on the country’s economy and its people’s daily lives. Increasing power outages in Karachi cause considerable financial losses to industry and commerce, and people are looking for reliable and affordable alternative sources of energy. A new IIED study, written by Arif Hasan, Mansoor Raza and Hira Ilyas Bawahab, explores attitudes to alternative energy sources in Urdu Bazaar, a typical commercial market in the centre of Karachi.
Urdu Bazaar’s shopkeepers, like many others in industry and commerce, are forced to use generators or uninterruptible power supply units, which are noisy, polluting and expensive, to shore up the daily gaps in provision from Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC). They would welcome reliable and affordable alternative sources of energy. Yet, while solar power could provide a solution to the energy problems in the market, this paper shows that there are technological, financial and social obstacles to the adoption of such technologies. It also reveals the challenges that companies face in promoting solar products, and the importance of adequate government support and incentives.
Through questionnaires, interviews and group discussion, the study explores the obstacles encountered to the adoption of solar power in Urdu Bazaar. It also provides a valuable insight into how individual researchers and activists can convene and engage with key market actors to facilitate market development. As the study reveals, the follow-up to the initial research triggered unexpected opportunities to promote solar energy solutions elsewhere in Pakistan. Success can be achieved by persistence and by being open to opportunities as they arise. The media can also provide a timely boost to awareness-raising efforts.
This was apparently the first study on attitudes to alternative sources of power and factors affecting the adoption of solar energy systems in Karachi’s commercial markets. We hope that the findings presented in the report will help both consumers and suppliers address the problems faced by all those along the energy supply chain in Karachi. Local studies such as this, highlighting opportunities and constraints, are important as a way of sharing knowledge on whether such alternatives are really feasible. We hope this study can contribute to increasing innovation and piloting of new approaches, and help to scale up from individual pilot projects to develop resilient markets for solar power and other alternative renewable and decentralised energy sources.
You can download the full study here: Urdu Bazaar: A study on the acceptability of alternative energy sou... (Arif Hasan, Mansoor Raza, Hira Ilyas Bawahab, 2013)
This report is the fourth in IIED’s ‘access to energy’ publication series. The series was launched in 2011 as a way of supporting research and making available lessons learned about access to energy. The series includes in-depth studies of specific access to energy projects, programmes and business models; analytical literature studies about particular aspects of energy delivery; and in-depth country studies looking more broadly at the energy sector and aspects of policy that support or hamper access to modern energy services, especially for poor and remote communities. The aim is to explore how current initiatives are working, how they depend on their social, cultural and political context, and how successful models can be scaled up, replicated or adapted to suit other contexts. We try to combine publication of these case studies with a discussion event or press conference.
The first three publications in the series are:
For more information contact IIED's Energy Team Leader, Emma Wilson at [email protected]