Balochistan is rich in renewable energy (RE) resources, which must be exploited for sustainable development of the province. The government should make efforts to exploit huge volume of renewable energy sources of the province through renewable energy technologies like wind power turbines, biogas plants, microhydel power plants and solar thermal devices. In the past, the government planned to undertake the following projects for development of the renewable energy resources including installation of windmill and solar energy systems in coastal areas and a detailed feasibility study for the remaining area at a total cost of Rs20 million. The experts consider renewable energy sources like water, wind, sunlight etc. as clean, eco-friendly and sustainable all over the world. On the other hand, thermal energy resources are expensive and environmentally unsafe. According to an estimate only 0.1 per cent of renewable sources are being utilized.
Sunrays are highest in Balochistan, as annual average mean daily solar radiation is at 5.9-6.2KWh/sq.m in the province. Its solar energy potential needs to be exploited fully in view of the growing energy demand. Solar energy is the most reliable and abundantly available renewable source. The province has an average daily global insulation of 19 to 20 million joules/m2 a day with an annual mean sunshine duration of 8- 8.5 hours. These values are among the highest in the world. For daily global radiation of up to 23 million joules/m2, 24 (80 per cent) consecutive days are available in this area. Such data is ideal for PV and other solar energy applications. The need is to take advantage of solar technologies to meet the challenge of electricity deficit. For abundance of solar energy, the solar thermal devices have greater scope in the province for power generation.
Solar thermal power plants produce electricity in much the same way as conventional power station. The difference is that they obtain their energy input by concentrating solar radiation and converting it to high temperature steam or gas to drive a turbine or engine. Solar power plants can simultaneously produce electricity, provide cooling by means of an absorption chiller, generate industrial processing steam and produce drinking water with a sea water desalination plant. From economic point of view, the solar thermal power plants will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels in remote areas. The operation and maintenance cost is nominal, compared to conventional power plants. Moreover, these plants will also avoid the risk of future electricity cost escalation. They are not only emissions-free in nature, but are ideally suited to reduce green house gases and other pollutants.
Alternative energy development board (AEDB) is carrying out many RE projects in remote areas of the province for the past many years. The AEDB’s village electrification program through solar energy could not fully be implemented in the province due to the financial constraint. Established as an autonomous body in 2003, AEDB is working development of RE technologies. It has been mandated to ensure five percent of total national power generation capacity to be generated through energy technologies by the year 2030. Solar energy-based projects are eco-friendly and sustainable. Electricity generation through solar thermal power plants is considered by most as an economical and cost-effective energy source, since there is no fuel cost. AEDB has already completed topographic survey of target villages in southern, central and northern Balochistan, yet it has been a cash-strapped and hence could not undertake installation of solar systems in the remote area of the province.
Wind is a promising renewable source. Balochistan is blessed with high rate of wind velocities and long sunshine hours. The available wind speed data collected from the meteorological directorate suggest that coastal area of Balochistan has enough wind speed to help generate electricity or to directly operate prime movers for water pumping systems largely suitable for small power requirements and remote area applications. The technical violability depends on the availability of mean wind speed, which must be at least equal to 3 meter per second for its minimum utility. Most of the wind resources are located either along the sea coast lines or on the mountains.
Windmill is the latest technology of producing low cost electricity. Windmills can be used to pump water for irrigation and grinding grain in agricultural fields. Windmills prove cheaper source of energy than coal and thermal based sources of electricity. Wind power system is currently in operation in China and some other countries. Chinese help should be sought for producing low cost electricity through windmills in the coastal areas of Pakistan. At least 100 wind power turbines may be installed in the remote coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Most of the parts of these 100 wind power turbines would be produced indigenously, except the generators, which are to be imported from China.
Windmills are installed at the places where there is a steady wind blowing at least at the speed of 20-25 kilometer per hour. Coastal areas and hilltops are considered highly suitable for wind turbine installation. According to the experts, a wind turbine of 100-megawatt power could be set up by an investment of $50 million with no concurrence cost. The wind turbines work on the principle of conservation of energy through which the wind energy is converted into electrical energy.
The coastal areas of Balochistan like Gwadar and Pasni in Makran district provide good conditions and climate for installation and working of the wind turbines. The wind power stations will control the power shortage problems in Balochistan and help provide educational and entertainment services through TV sets, which are dependent upon electricity supply in the rural areas. Wind turbine must be located in the highest wind speed regime. Windmills can be set up on the top of the hills against the fast blowing wind in Balochistan. According to an estimate a 300-watt wind turbine is sufficient to run about two or three lines of black and white television and probably a radio. The renewable resources of generating electric power are highly desirable to overcome the acute power crisis in the province.