Is Going Solar The Only Option?

By Amal Hashim (class of 2020)

(Student, School of  Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Habib University)

The SSE Public Lecture Series at Habib University maintains a distinguished legacy of inviting notable speakers to engage with the general-public into some thoughtful discussions about the place of science, technology and innovation in different aspects of collective and individual lives. Acknowledging the rapid shifts and transitions in the tech-ecology of Pakistan, Fall ‘17 semester has been devoted to the very theme of ‘Tech-penetration in Pakistan’ i.e. techPen.

The techPen hosted it’s very first talk at Habib University – campus on the possible future and validity of the use of solar energy as a solution to the growing energy crisis in the country specially when energy efficiency in spite of all-sort of ignorance persists to exist as a possible solution. There were two speakers including: Nida Fareed, an aerospace engineer who also co-authored the Energy Plan for Pakistan, and Jeremy Higgs, co-founder and COO of EcoEnergy Finance. The individual talks were followed by a panel discussion which was moderated by Dr. Moiz Anis, assistant professor at the university.

Other than Habib community, students from different universities of Karachi turned in numbers for this event. Besides students, many professionals working in the Energy Sector, government officials, and academics also attended the talk, some out of their own interest and others because it was relevant to their fields.

The talk itself was very interesting because the two speakers were very different in their specialities and yet also working towards the same goal – energy efficiency and solar energy as alternates to the national grid in the country. Nida Fareed brilliantly explained the real reason for energy shortages in the country. Needless to say, the audience was surprised when Fareed revealed that the real reason was actually the amount of energy lost due to the weakness of the grid and a lack of energy efficiency at the consumer’s end. Instead, Fareed encouraged consumers not to wait for the authorities to fix these grids and rather than being another player in the “game of energy losses”, actively try and reduce their energy wastage.

Jeremy Higgs, on the other hand, talked about his company which was providing solar energy products to the 70 million people who are not connected to the grid and lack energy at all times. He made the audience aware of the kind of problems faced by his company at making solar energy products available to the population at an affordable cost.

One of the most advantageous points of the talk was when at the end of the talk Higgs gave an open invitation to the audience to come to him or his company if they had a solar energy based project that they wanted to test out for the market.