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Azhar Ayub

For the record
Azhar Ayub

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 economically viable?

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.