By Syed M. Aslam
Apr 17 - 23, 2000
Born, raised and educated in Karachi, Azhar Ayub holds such a
diversified degrees as BSc, MA, LLB and MBA. He has been working with the Royal Dutch
carrier, KLM, for last the twenty-three-and-half years. He held the post of station
manager KLM in Karachi till last month when the carrier closed 62 years of continuous
operations in Pakistan. While Azhar has spent a long part of his professional life with
the KLM having completed aviation courses from the US and Holland, his passion is study
and research in alternative energy resources such as wind turbines, solar energy, bio-gas,
electrical cars and wind-powered desalination plants. Harnessing the wind energy to
replace the traditional hydel and thermal energy production which is highly expensive is a
dream much closer to his heart to narrow the widening gap between supply and demand of
energy in Pakistan. To demonstrate that the above alternative energy resources are
practical he established a company named Energen to research and develop as well as to
serve as a dealer in power generation equipments and plants. It specialised in wind mills,
wind turbine, solar energy, electrical car, bio-gas etc. Azhar intends to do a doctorate
in alternative energy resources from the Houston University, as Karachi University does
not have an Environment Department to help him with the thesis.
PAGE: Are the climatic conditions ideal for harnessing
the wind energy in Pakistan?
Azhar Ayub: Not only the climatic conditions are ideal
but the 560 mile plus coastline offers us an unique opportunity to tap the wind energy
which costs much less to install than the solar energy. The maintenance costs are also
much lower than that for the solar energy systems as latest technology now makes it
possible to use corrosion-free fibre for the manufacture of blades to cut the maintenance
and repair costs substantially. The design of the blades have also been improved to use
even the small wind speed to generate energy. While a wind speed of 7 knots [one knot
equals approx. 1.85 kilometers per hour] and above is considered good for wind turbines,
in Pakistan the average wind speed is 13 knots throughout the year. In addition, this
above average wind speed is available as far up as 90 miles inland throughout the 560 mile
national coastline. Unfortunately, not much work has been done to develop wind energy as a
much less expensive energy alternative in Pakistan.
PAGE: Is developing wind as an alternative energy
Azhar Ayub: A good quality 300 watt wind turbine from
any of the major manufacturers the US or The Netherlands costs around $ 300 or Rs
16,000 at current exchange rates. The total cost of the system including the turbine which
have to be connected to 4-8 batteries to ensure supply of electricity as wind speed is
uncertain plus a one kilowatt inverter can help generate 1 kilowatt of electricity. One
kilowatt of electricity is enough to meet the energy needs of most households in Pakistan
to run 4 fans, 4 tubelights, a television and a fridge. The total cost of this one
kilowatt system including the turbine, batteries and inverter is Rs 50,000-55,000 which
could be reduced substantially if the units are imported in bulk. The system is virtually
maintenance-free as the blades are made of corrosion-free fibre, the batteries just needs
regular water fillings, and the ball bearings need only occasional oiling.
PAGE: Can the wind energy be harnessed on large scale
for the overall benefit of the energy-deficient country like Pakistan.
Azhar Ayub: There are all types of wind turbines
available in the international market. While the small ones ranging from 1 kilowatt to 20
kilowatt can be used by the individual households both in the urban and rural areas there
are big wind turbines in the ranges of 50 kw to 500 kw. These big wind turbines can be
used, mainly in two ways: either in stand-alone system which is connected to batteries to
reduce electricity bills in the big industries as it does not need any fuel or in the
grid-connected system which connects them with the main grid to supply electricity to
anyone who is interested just like the traditional poll-mounted network in Pakistan.
Installing 60-70 large wind turbines can help meet the entire energy needs of the biggest
city of Pakistan, Karachi.
PAGE: You have also been marketing water desalination
plant. What is your experience?
Azhar Ayub: Pakistan is an arid country. At present we
are facing one of the worst water crisis in our history. Pakistan has a long shoreline and
we have big salt deposits nationwide which are continuously effecting our water resources
for both drinking and industrial use. Reverse osmosis is the most economical and cheap
water-softening method which require a very small amount of energy. The process is very
popular as it can be used in households whose daily water consumption varies between 25
gallons to 400 gallons. It could also be used by the large industries. I personally have a
3000 gallons per day imported desalination plant which costs Rs 200,000. This is ideal for
even the large families as 3000 gallons means nearly three tanker-loads of water.
PAGE: You have also experimented with electrical car?
Azhar Ayub: Yes. The increasing prices of petroleum
products make electrical car as the only true solution for people in Pakistan. We can
convert a petrol-driven car into an electrical car by installing 8 rechargeable batteries
and converting the electrical system and the engine. The conversion cost is Rs 150,000 at
present but could be cut into half if we choose to produce the conversion kit locally for
which we have all the raw materials. The running cost can be reduced by up to 200 per
cent. The batteries last for 4-5 years and have to be charged for 4 hours after every 100
kilometers of travel. It makes all the sense for energy-deficient country like Pakistan.