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Urdu Bazaar: A study on the acceptability of alternative energy sources for a book market in Karachi

This study explores attitudes to alternative energy sources in Urdu Bazaar, a typical commercial market in the centre of Karachi.

Pakistan’s frequent power outages are starting to take a serious toll both on the country’s economy and its people’s daily lives. 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; and 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.

Although the shopkeepers in Urdu Bazaar were keen on the solar option proposed in this study because it would make them less reliant on inefficient power supplies from KESC, they decided not to adopt it. Through questionnaires, interviews and group discussion, this 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 follow-up to this research triggered unexpected opportunities to promote solar energy solutions elsewhere in Pakistan.

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Publication information

  • IIED code: 16536IIED
  • Published: May 2013 - IIED
  • Area: Pakistan
  • Theme: Energy
  • ISBN: 978-1-84369-924-8
  • Language: English

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Hasan A., Raza M., Bawahab, H.I. (2013) Urdu Bazaar: A study on the acceptability of alternative energy sources for a book market in Karachi, IIED, London

Project information

One in five people around the world – 1.3 billion people – lack electricity to light their homes or run their businesses, while wealthy countries consume vast amounts of electricity every day. IIED’s energy team works to promote access to sustainable energy for the poorest communities and a more equitable consumption of energy resources. Energy access is an area of great inequity. Access to sustainable modern energy services underpins health, education and livelihoods and increases resilience to climate change – yet millions of people have no access to electricity and use dangerous and unhealthy fuels for lighting and cooking.

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