Academia and the energy sector
Oct 29: Over the last couple of decades, the global energy scenario has been
substantially transformed. Energy demand and supply markets have grown manifold
at national and international levels, new technologies have emerged,
energy-related challenges have increased and so have
Universities being human capacity enhancement centres that
accomplish the objective through teaching, research and partnership with other
stakeholders in society have proactively responded to the progression in the
The subject of energy has evolved greatly in universities
across the world - energy departments have grown both in number and size, the
curriculum has evolved, a greater number of energy engineers and professionals
with a wide range of expertise is being produced, research has surged,
collaboration with industrial and commercial bodies has been boosted and public
awareness has hit new levels.
Particularly in the developed countries,
universities are leaders in national energy sustainability frameworks in terms
of solution provision, human resource development and policymaking processes.
Most universities offer undergraduate, postgraduate and research degree
programmes in the core areas of energy. Some countries are incorporating the
subject of energy as an essential part of the university curriculum. In Scotland
for example, every university is bound to offer at least one programme in the
area of energy and sustainability.
Contrary to that, universities in
Pakistan have not given due consideration to energy as it is still being treated
as a routine and insignificant subject. None of the aforementioned trends have
found their way into Pakistani universities. The credentials - a few
universities producing power engineers in small numbers and one or two others
producing nuclear and petroleum engineers - are far from
The energy-related challenges facing Pakistan are enormous.
A severe energy crisis has already dawned upon the country. Along with other
stakeholders, universities have a crucial contribution to make. What Pakistan
particularly lacks is qualified human resource in the form of energy scientists,
engineers and professionals that could analyse energy-related problems facing
the country both at the macro and micro levels and synthesise value-engineered
The energy challenges facing Pakistan - a massive gap between
demand and supply, depleting gas reserves, rocketing energy prices, energy
security and across the board inefficient use of energy - are too mammoth for
the humble energy engineers (both in numbers and variety) our universities
It is alarming that there is not a single holistic
energy department in any Pakistani university. In order to ensure a sustainable
energy scenario for the country, universities need to deliver competent and
qualified human resource with expertise in a diverse range of energy areas.
Universities must produce experts in the areas of both conventional (hydropower,
oil, gas, coal and nuclear) and non-conventional (solar, wind, biomass and wave)
energy systems, in energy trading, energy conservation and management, and in
energy security and risk assessment.
These experts should be aware of the
crucial role of energy in economic, social and environmental development. They
should be aware of the global geopolitics of energy. They should have a broad
understanding of the science of energy and be aware of the challenges facing
local and global energy scenarios and prospects so as to be able to deliver
visionary policies to bail the country out of the energy crisis.
another dimension to the issue of energy and the below par performance of
academia that does not allow the entire blame to be placed on the academia.
Universities to some extent have to deliver a product (graduate) that is
desirable in the market (industry). Industry in Pakistan has failed to
comprehend the essence and scope of this area - mastering in design and
development of energy systems (i.e. turbines, engines and generators) and
formulating innovative solutions is like asking for too much.
Even in its
own domain, industry has not been able to ensure the efficient use of energy by
applying energy conservation and management practices. Industry has not created
a demand for energy engineers and professionals to be met by
Thus in order to bring about a healthy change, industry
ought to come forward to help universities not only accommodate energy graduates
but also boost research and development activities. At the same time,
universities also have to be appreciative of the need to develop a partnership
There are some new universities in the private sector that
are in the process of establishing engineering departments. Having performed
well in other areas of social sciences, it was expected of them to entertain the
subject of energy when taking the physical sciences on board. But surprisingly,
none of them have given any deliberation to it and have opted for traditional
subjects that are already being widely taught in the
Universities both in the public and private sector have to
realise that the subject of energy is as much an applied science as any other.
They must enlist energy departments in their priorities and make a meaningful
contribution to help the country resolve its energy crisis. The curriculum has
to be redesigned. Human resources have to be developed. Research must be
initiated and an academic-industrial partnership must be forged.
also worth noting that energy is a billion dollar business. Careful estimates
indicate that in the short term alone Pakistan needs multibillions invested in
the energy sector in order to address the present energy crisis. On a medium- to
long-term basis, it is going to require tens of billions of dollars if a
sustainable energy future is to be ensured. Logically and fairly, universities
can also win handsome business by providing consultancy services to
industry.Universities thus in their own and the national interest should rise to
the occasion. Recently, the Higher Education Commission introduced some
commendable policies to promote research-oriented activities in universities.
The HEC should make extra and immediate efforts to establish proactive energy
departments in several universities in the country equipped with state of the
art resources to get business (education, research and development)
Lastly, for how long will we keep hiring foreign experts to do
site surveys, prepare feasibility reports, and provide and install energy
systems? Who else can best answer this question but the academia, the industry
and the relevant policymakers?
The writer is a lecturer in renewable
energy at the Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
By Dr M. Asif Email: email@example.com (Dawn)
"its an excellent article and offers a lot of food for thought for relevant authorities."
Name: Saqib hasan
City, Country: islamabad, Pakistan
|Post your Comments/ Views.|
|Updated: 14 Oct, 2014|