ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Praising Pakistan’s focused efforts to surmount its energy shortage, US Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Department of Energy Jonathan Elkind Monday said American experts would help use its energy more efficiently by modernizing its electric grid system.
Briefing a group of reporters here at the embassy, Elkind, who along with energy experts was here to talk to their Pakistani counterparts in the sector, said the United States would be helping Pakistan under a $ 3 million project, which was meant to build its capacity in efficient use of energy.
“A well-functioning energy sector is the very bedrock on which the rest of the economy in any country is based. We think a very high degree of focus that the Government of Pakistan has placed on the energy sector is appropriate,” he said.
The US was “proud of the progress” that had been made in Pakistan in the energy sector, he said, adding much more needed to be done in terms of development of this sector.
Replying to a question, he said under the energy capacity building project, the US energy experts would assist Pakistan to attract both domestic and international investors as well.
“We hope to work very closely with Pakistani counterparts to help Pakistan resolve the remaining issues in the energy sector.”
An efficient use of energy, he said, would help Pakistani companies produce cheaper goods.
“The engagements that we are doing, there is an ambitious target also for the US-Pakistan energy partnership. We think that there is more than enough investors’ interest from a number of different sources, including from the United States. Investors are looking for predictability in their treatment in a regulatory choice structure under which they would operate. And we think that there is very very good reason to be optimistic about those investments” if one looked at the kind of changes and improvements mad e by the government in a last couple of years.
To a question on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, Jonathan said international sanctions imposed on Iran had been lifted, which was a positive step and that certainly had made the conditions favourable in import of the natural gas from Tehran. However, he said there were still certain sanctions, which were in place against Iran in terms of using the US legal and financial system.
He refused to further comment on the issue when questioned whether it would invoke the US sanctions if Pakistan and Iran went ahead with the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline.
Jonathan said the prices of many clean energy technologies had come down drastically as a consequence of research and their broad application.
He stressed the need on having a diversified mix fuel strategy and having a backup generating system to keep the wheel of the economy running. For instance if there was no sun, solar panels would not work. If there was no wind, wind energy would not be available hence diversification was an answer to deal with such situation, he added.
Questioned on Pakistan making a choice for using its coal reserves to generate energy, he said even the US was using it for production of energy. However, over the years coal’s share of US energy mix had decreased significantly due to availability of inexpensive domestic natural gas and its negative environmental impact.
The use of coal, he said, impacted the quality of the air and polluted air causes asthma in the children. Hence he emphasized the need to fully exploit the potential of Pakistan’s natural gas for catering to its energy needs. Making choices for its energy mix was the prerogative of Islamabad, he added.