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Pakistan on path of solar energy progress

The World Bank, in partnership with the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), has launched a series of new solar maps for Pakistan. These efforts will help to increase the deployment of renewable energy in Pakistan. It will greatly help in expanding access to cheap sources of indigenous energy in Pakistan.

With these honest attempts Pakistan becomes the first country to benefit from legalized solar maps under a global initiative on renewable energy resource mapping led by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank. In this context Pakistan joins group of mainly developed countries, having access to duly validated and high quality solar energy maps available for planning and prospecting purposes.

The project on solar mapping in Pakistan included field data, which is being generated by nine solar measurement stations installed two years ago throughout the country. The project supports AEDB’s efforts to harness renewable energy in all the provinces. The solar maps used the latest solar resource modeling techniques, based on 18 years of satellite and global atmospheric data from 1999-2016.

FINANCING SOLAR POWER PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN

The World Bank has agreed to finance solar power projects from its Green Fund in an effort to improve the energy mix in Pakistan. Currently because of the poor energy mix, the entire chain has been affected. This is pushing energy companies towards financial collapse.

World Bank has expressed its willingness. It was ready to finance the development of solar projects with a tariff of 3 to 3.5 cents per unit. This seems to be quite attractive. The suggested tariff is still above some international rates, but is less than half of what coal powered plants are costing Pakistan.

ROOF SOLAR PROJECT

The government was now working on the possibility of availing itself of the financing from the World Bank’s Green Fund that would go to renewable energy projects to be set up in far-off areas of Pakistan.

The Ministry of Water and Power will engage an international panel of experts, who would develop a road map for the induction of renewable energy.

Off-grid areas of Balochistan would be suitable places for the proposed solar plants of 50-100 megawatts capacity each. The another proposal is to select sites for small solar power plants of 1-2MW that would be more feasible in the areas of Balochistan and other provinces where the population was scattered.

A reasonable amount of electricity could be generated through the solar system in buildings of big cities. The grid stability would have to be ensured by increasing the base load capacity of projects. Such plants would be more useful for off-grid use. For this purpose, a panel of international experts would be engaged.

The government has agreed to abundantly move towards solar power projects. The government, faced with the increasing gap in supply and demand, as well as delays in other power projects, is now seriously considering going for more solar power projects to combat the energy shortfall.

Previously, the government was clear on its stance on opting for expensive coal fired power plants despite the great potential of cheap solar energy in the country. After failing to meet the electricity demand, the government has started to look for other options.

World Bank’s suggestion and funding could ensure cheap and clean energy for Pakistanis if the government continues to work with it.

Sources suggest that Pakistan is aiming to set up solar power projects in far-off areas of the country. To secure the funding, Ministry of Water and Power will make use of international experts to develop a roadmap for the induction of solar energy and identify sites for projects while keeping in view the grid’s stability and the aspect of modernization in the future.

The funding will be available to the government after it has selected the land for solar parks. Officials are of the view that off-grid areas in Balochistan are suitable for solar plants of between 50-100 megawatts.

The ministry is also discussing on selecting sites for small power plants of 1-2MW for areas where the population is scattered.

A huge amount of energy can be reduced though renewable means, such as by employing solar systems on rooftops of urban buildings similar to what has been done with the Parliament House in Islamabad.

Pakistan is expected to have a demand of 33,124MW by 2018. The government should focus more on solar energy and scale back on coal power in order to provide cheap and clean energy to the public.

At present, the poor energy mix and circular debt have greatly affected the supply chain, even pushing some energy companies towards financial collapse.

 

With increasing loadshedding duration, Pakistan has to improve its energy management, and incorporate cheap energy sources into the mix for the benefit of the public. The development of elaborate solar maps of Pakistan by the World Bank and the Alternate Energy Development Board is a step in the right direction.

Solar energy has been making headlines across the world for the last few years. Between 2005 and 2010, the global installed capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV), also termed solar cells, has grown from 5GW to 227GW.

Since 1977, the price of PV has dropped from $76/watt to $0.03/watt. This phenomenal success owes to wide-ranging factors; most importantly, conducive policies, technological advancements and economy of scale.

Solar PV is now becoming financially competitive. Dubai, for example, is currently developing an 800MW PV project with a power purchase agreement signed at less than three US cents per kW hour.

The scope for solar energy in Pakistan is huge. The perception is that hot climates are best for solar PV.

The output from solar cells is directly proportional to the sunshine level, while it is adversely affected by temperature. It also heavily depends upon clarity of atmosphere.

Factors like atmospheric dust, pollution, humidity and wind speed take a toll on the output. Careful selection of a site for solar systems, especially in the case of large-scale projects, is therefore critical; any lapses in evaluating the solar resource and other relevant climatic parameters can result in. significant impact on a project’s viability.

While renewable energy is making an important contribution to the energy and environmental landscapes of many countries both in the developed and developing world, Pakistan has been extremely slow in capitalizing on it.

Even other South Asian countries have made tremendous progress in renewable energy.

For example, while India is amongst the leading countries in the world in terms of both solar and wind power, Bangladesh has over two million systems installed in the residential sector alone.

At the small-scale level, there have been wide-ranging business models dealing with technologies like solar home systems, communal solar systems, biogas plants and improved cooking stoves.

These accomplishments have been fostered by strong public- and private-sector patronage and institutional development.

In recent years, solar systems have found some acceptance in domestic and commercial sectors. Aside from the renewable energy policy development and tax exemptions on solar PV gear, there have been many public-sector initiatives, the most hyped being the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park.

Pakistan is recognized as having enormous potential for solar energy and the newly developed maps would provide better insight into the resource base.

Besides solar PV, there is huge scope for solar water heating and solar thermal power generation. Given the prevalent electricity shortfall and reliance on imported oil and gas to meet national energy requirements, solar energy as an indigenous resource can greatly help address this energy insecurity.

There is, however, need for a coherent and strategic approach in the form of supportive policies, innovative business models, local and international financial and technical partnerships — and motivation.

Solar systems are fast evolving; new and more efficient types of cells and storage solutions are being developed. One must keep an eye on them to develop optimum solutions.

A large proportion of the population in Pakistan lacks access to the national grid; it would be a better option to focus on small- to medium-scale and distributed generation projects.

Climate change and Energy crisis are two major challenges that the world confronts today.

Governments of developed Nations, rich in resources, are trying to figure out the sustainable solutions.

The UN Climate Change Conference Paris was held in 2015 to draw the attention of the world on hazards of the Climate change and to highlight the significance of renewable energy.

Scientists from all around the globe mustered together to find solutions and to put forth their ideas in this regard.

Tesla. Inc launched its solar roof project. It is a glass roofing tile that will generate electricity for a home by way of a solar cell embedded in each of its tiles. It is a huge step by the company towards renewable energy.

World Bank and other organizations such as UN are helping nations especially underdeveloped nations like Pakistan to cope up with its energy crisis and to lessen their reliability on fossil fuel as it contributes towards pollution. World Bank under its Green Fund project has assured Pakistan that it will finance solar power projects in the country to improve its energy mix.

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