ISLAMABAD - The government would extend all possible support for production and promotion of solar water heaters in Pakistan as their use would drastically reduce gas consumption in the country, said Raja Pervez Ashraf, Minister for Water and Power and Chairman Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB). He was presiding over the 19th AEDB meeting held here on Friday. Raja Pervez Ashraf also hailed a local entrepreneur for establishing the first ever solar water heaters manufacturing unit in Pakistan. He directed the AEDB to help create a market for the solar water heaters and take all possible steps for promoting their use in the country. The minister also directed AEDB to arrange meetings with the prospective investors and engage local Chambers of Commerce & Industries to devise strategies for attracting investments in this sector. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf stressed upon the public sector organisations to immediately take lead in switching over to solar water heating system. The federal minister informed the Board that the government would establish Northern Areas Electricity Development Company to facilitate setting up power generation projects in the area. The Board was informed that AEDB had awarded Letter of Intent to a private company to establish 16-20MW hydel power generation project on River Gilgit near Gilgit city. The company could not proceed with the feasibility study because of certain procedural matters and had sought clarification on it. Moreover, the Board was told that legal aspects of extending the jurisdiction of NEPRA to Northern Areas would also be studied. The Board was further informed that ECC has been requested for considering the extension of national grid in the Northern Areas and setting up of regional grids in coordination with Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Water and Power. The ECC decision has addressed the concerns of the investing firm, which has decided to move ahead with the feasibility study of the project. The Board was also informed that a private sector power generation company, M/s Green Power (Pvt) Ltd., would shortly start setting up its wind farm in Jhimpir. This would be the countrys 2nd wind farm after the 1st wind farm established by M/s Zorlu Enerji (Pvt) Ltd., inaugurated in April this year. The new project that is expected to be launched in the mid of the next year would comprise 33 towers with an installed capacity of 1.5MW wind turbine generator each, with an aggregate capacity to generate 50MW of electricity. The Board approved the holding of the First International Alternative and Renewable Energy Symposium 2010. Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf presided over the meeting, which was attended by Arif Alauddin, Muhammad Ayub Sanjrani, Farid-ullah Khan, Arshad Mehmood Malik, AVM Tariq Mateen, Mansoor Elahi, Muhammad Ashraf Aziz and Dr Atta M Panhwar.