Pakistan has been a victim of the ever-prolonged energy-crisis, witnessing unsteady supply of energy resources for the industrial, commercial and domestic sectors. The country is hence in a need of a reliable energy resource and renewable energy technologies and in this regard especially solar is an ideal solution.
Reon Energy Limited, the best industrial and commercial clean energy specialist in the country, is driven to create an energy future that is affordable, accessible and sustainable. “Solar energy is the most sustainable choice for businesses and can play a vital role in the country’s future energy-mix. Reon has the experience, know-how of the commercial and industrial sectors and the skill-set to efficiently deliver solar projects. We are the ideal partners for businesses, industries, telecom tower operators, and real estate developers.” Said Mujataba Haider Khan, CEO, Reon Energy Limited.
Reon is a part of the Dawood Hercules Corporation — which is the single largest contributor to the private energy sector of Pakistan – that controls almost 1,800MW of generation capacity, boasting large scale ventures such as Hub Power Company Limited (HUBCO), Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Tenaga Generasi Limited and Laraib Energy Limited. In 2016, the company created successful partnerships with clients like Unilever Pakistan, Wah Nobel Chemicals, The Coca Cola Export Corporation, Karachi Golf Club, and Basic Health Units in Punjab. Reon has also installed solar projects for 68 telecom towers across Pakistan and geared to do more in 2017.
A question which still boggles the minds of consumers’ is; why should people look towards solar power as the viable solution to Pakistan’s energy crisis? Well, despite the fact that Solar is available, affordable, and sustainable, fact-of-the-matter is that Pakistan holds an idyllic advantage when it comes to exploiting solar power. Located close to the Sun Belt, Pakistan has a solar potential of over 2,300,000 MW per annum!
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN SOLAR ENERGY
Pakistan has awarded $1.5 billion contract for its largest solar power project of 900MW in Bahawalpur to a Chinese company, which has the biggest solar power plant of only 170MW back home.
After concluding a final round of meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Zonergy Company Ltd President Yu Yong said that his company had a total portfolio of 1,200MW of solar plants in China and the largest one was 170MW plant in Xinjiang.
He said the company had an association of over 17 years with Pakistan. Previously, it had been engaged in telecommunication sector through another company ZTE since 1998. He explained that Zonergy was not a subsidiary of the ZTE, but is one of the largest shareholders in the ZTE and was also the largest shareholder in Zonergy. Yong said there was a need to address concerns regarding Pakistan’s national grid’s conversion system to accommodate fluctuating renewable energy sources. “The 900MW solar project launched in Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park in Bahawalpur is the largest solar power project in the world,” he said.
Najeed Sadiq, a Zonergy director, said the first 50MW unit would be brought into production on Aug 14 this year, to be followed by another 250MW on Dec 25, to coincide with the anniversary of the father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam, and then 100MW would be added every month. He said the full 900MW capacity would be available by the end of next year.
He said the China Exim Bank and China Development Bank had provided funds for the project. Mr Yong said solar power generation has become a global focus because “it is clean, renewable and safe”. Around 1.271bn KWh of electricity is expected to be generated annually from the solar power station, which would cover a total area of 4,500 acres. It is also expected to create at least 3,300 jobs.
SOLAR POWER PARK
Meanwhile, some 400,000 solar panels, spread over 200 hectares of flat desert, glare defiantly at the sun at what is known as the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park (QASP) in Cholistan Desert, Punjab, named after Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
The 100MW photovoltaic cells (PV) solar farm was built by Chinese company Xinjiang SunOasis in just three months, and started selling electricity to the national grid in August.
This is the first energy project under the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key part of China’s ‘new silk road’, linking the port at Gwadar in southern Pakistan with Kashgar in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
The 100MW plant is the pilot stage of a more ambitious plan to build the world’s largest solar farm. Once completed in 2017, the site could have capacity of 5.2 million PV cells producing as much as 1,000MW of electricity – enough to power about 320,000 households. Construction of the next stage is already underway, led by another Chinese company Zonergy.
REDUCING EMISSIONS, PROVIDING LIVELIHOODS
The Cholistan desert is an ideal spot for solar power, said Muhammad Hassan Askari, operating manager of the solar park. The area gets 13 hours of sunlight every day while the huge expanse of flat desert is ideal for a large commercial project like this one.
The big advantage of solar power, he said, is that a large park, which can be completed faster than thermal or hydropower projects, which take much longer time and require a lot of maintenance.
The solar park will also shrink Pakistan’s carbon footprint, said Najam Ahmed Shah, the chief executive officer of QASP, displacing about 57,500 tonnes of coal burn and reducing emissions by 90,750 tonnes every year.