President Asif Ali Zardari Monday called for a global partnership on renewable energy, particularly solar and wind resources involving both public and private sector, to ensure availability of affordable energy to the common man.
In a keynote address at the opening session of the four-day World Future Energy Summit, the President said, production of energy and its availability has become the driving force of economics and ever increasing demand was sustained by greater use of the element.
He said high level participation of world leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers in the summit, is indeed a tribute to the vision for environmental conservation pioneered by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a great friend of Pakistan and a widely revered statesman.
On his arrival at the venue of the summit, the President was warmly received by Crown Prince Shaikh Muhammad Bin Zayed.
The President noted that the UAE has demonstrated to the world, and to the Muslim Ummah in particular, that trade and commerce, innovation and invention, ideas and enterprise, can make a desert bloom.
The UAE is the model for the future, and the city of Masdar is its crowning jewel. This is the moment of the beginning of a new era. The future is in our hands, he added.
About the development of renewable energy, the President said attempts have been made in the past, to produce cleaner fuels, bio-fuels, but the cost to produce that energy was sometimes more than the energy it would in turn produce.
The intent was positive, even if the direction turned out to be wrong. It now seems that the choice of corn as the source material was not the wisest since the land and water taken away from food security has led to hunger and instability in the poorer countries.
He said the failure of corn is not necessarily the failure of ethanol. There are other seeds that can be used for clean bio-fuels that need no fresh water. There is other non-food crops that grow in abundance in poor soil without fertilisation that are excellent sources of potential fuels.
Our job, President Zardari said is not to dwell about things that did not work in the past but rather to find things that do work for the future.
“We do not have the time to mourn. It is time to innovate.”
“In workshops, laboratories and research stations all over the world, the human mind is reaching a stage of development where solutions to the prohibitive costs of renewable energy are being found every day”. he said.
It is a question more about “Will” than of time. If the funds used in war would be used in energy development, we would have long ago solved the earth’s environmental crisis.”
“If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago,” he said.
With higher prices and growing scarcity of fossil fuel, solar power is finally emerging as a viable and efficient source of energy, the President said adding the largest solar project in the world is being undertaken here in Abu Dhabi.
Innovations and improvements in the panels could well make solar energy a major contributor to local transmission systems and the main driver of hybrid cars, small machines and instruments in the very near future.-APP
Innovation, he added is also making wind power more efficient and effective, making it a critical part of the grid system in many countries and critical to the future expansion of renewal energy all over the world.
The President hoped wind might hold the key to energy independence and environmental renewal in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.
Solar energy, wave and wind power, bio-diesel and fertilisers from weeds, and oil seeds grown in seawater are all keys to freeing the world from fossil fuel dependence and fatal global climate change.
These new technologies may require capital investment, but the price of action pales by comparison to the incalculable cost of inaction.
“If we can’t act boldly for ourselves, at least, can we act boldly for our children and grandchildren and generations yet unborn.”
About the challenges Pakistan was facing, the President said his country has 180 million people.
“Our demographics are the driving force of our needs,” he said and added “Pakistan’s economy needs to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent just to guarantee that our people are able to sustain their current standard of living.”
Pakistan’s energy demands, he said have to be met urgently. Pakistan’s current energy capacity-20,000 MWs- will have to double within a decade to meet economic targets. The government has, in some small measure, stepped up and accepted responsibility and accountability, having been victim to one environmental disaster after another–earthquakes, floods, deadly pollution, climate change and drought.
Learning from the past, the President said, “we have turned increasingly to initiatives in water and energy conservation, high efficiency irrigation systems, the powering of water systems and houses by solar and wind energy.”
Individually these are all small steps, but taken together as national policy, they represent a long-term commitment, a fundamental reorientation to the future of our people and to the sustainability of life on our planet.
President Zardari said, “The quality of our children’s future and the survival of our planet is in our hands.”
“We should not shrink from that responsibility, we should welcome it. Insha Allah, we shall not fail.”
The world leaders who addressed the summit included Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajhid, Prime Minster of Portugal Josh Socrates, Prime Minister Georgia Nikoloz Gilauri, President Iceland Ragnar Grimsson and Secretary General UN Ban Ki Moon.