S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
Research Analyst, PAGE
June 13 - 19, 2011
In the developing world, availability of power and appropriate tariffs can play a vital role in the economic development and people's well-being. As countries become wealthier and their populations grow, demand for energy increases. Traditional sources of energy are often too expensive to fulfill this demand. There are also concerns about the limited reserves of fossil fuels and their environmental costs.
Solar energy is an excellent alternative to fossil fuels, particularly for such developing countries as Pakistan that receive high levels of solar radiation. More and more countries, therefore, are introducing economically and environmentally sound energy policies and turning to solar energy for a wide range of uses including cooking and water heating. However, people are unlikely to adopt a completely new technology until they know something about it and have seen how it works. They need to have access to clearly presented information that explains the technical and economic benefits of replacing long-established traditional methods with new, innovative ways of doing things. This means that the new technology must be readily available.
Also, in the country about 70 per cent of the population lives in some 50,000 villages dispersed around the country. Many of these villages are far from the main transmission lines of the national grid and, because of their relatively small populations it is usually not economically viable to connect these villages to the grid.
Solar energy, on the other hand, has potential in areas of Pakistan that receive high levels of solar radiation throughout the year. Every day, for example, the country receives an average of about 19 mega joules per square metre of solar energy.
Solar energy systems have already been developed and tested, and they should now be adopted extensively as a way of supporting the economy and improving the living standards of its people. Not only can solar systems meet basic needs of rural areas, but they can also reduce the pressure on conventional energy sources in urban areas, leaving more of these valuable resources for other domestic and industrial needs.
Solar geysers and cookers can be installed in remote rural and suburban areas and are safe and pollution-free alternatives to gas, other electricity sources and wood. They can also replace the traditional use of wood or dried dung for domestic cooking, thereby solving significant health and environmental problems. Wood conservation is particularly significant in rural areas, where demand for fuel wood is leading to widespread deforestation. As a result of deforestation and other ecological changes, rainfall is decreasing, temperatures are rising, water-table levels are falling, and agriculture is suffering.
Currently, Pakistan is blessed with a huge solar potential of more than 5-6 KWH/m2/day of irradiation in many areas. The potential is feasible for both solar PV and Solar thermal application. The area with highest solar potential is the province of Balochistan followed by Eastern Sindh and Southern Punjab promising technical and financially viable solar energy projects. These projects can be on-grid or off-grid. Some areas in Eastern Sindh and Southern Punjab also have the potential for such interventions.
Alternative energy development board (AEDB) plans to electrify 400 villages, 100 in Sindh and 400 in Balochistan. Total 49 villages in Sindh have already been electrified where 3000 solar home systems are installed. Street lights and billboards consume around 400 mw of power which can be taken off from the grid by converting these loads to solar. The duration of use and the amount of power requirement make these two interventions technically viable and financially attractive with very small payback periods.
AEDB has prepared a PC-I and submitted it for approval for a demonstration project. AEDB has also initiated pilot program under the World Bank assistance to study the technical, financial and social viability for replacement of conventional water heaters with solar water heaters.
This pilot was designed to trigger the market forces under different financial mechanisms and incentives.
Solar PV parks of small to medium capacity (1-10 mws) in dispersed locations will ensure reliability and efficiency of the national grid. High solar potential increases the affordability factor on one hand and sustainability on the other. AEDB has issued five letters of intent (LoI) of cumulative capacity of 113 mw for installation of solar PV parks in Sindh and Southern Punjab.
Solar thermal power generation using concentrated solar power technology (CSP) is a viable option because of its promising potential. These power plants of medium to large capacities (10-50 mw) can be installed in Southern Punjab and Eastern Sindh and Balochistan because of the availability of water in these areas. A LoI request for installation of 500 mw of CSP power plants is under review with the panel of experts
Solar energy is environment-friendly. Unlike fossil fuels that release greenhouses gases, carcinogens and carbon dioxide, solar cells don't release anything in the air. Solar cells make no noise while collecting energy. There are no other renewable energy sources that are completely silent. In some poorer countries respiratory diseases and impaired eyesight are common because of use of kerosene and candles for domestic heating and lighting. Solar energy is better solution to the energy crisis.
FDI INFLOWS IN POWER SECTOR ($ MILLION)
2004-05 73.4 2005-06 320.6 2006-07 193.4 2007-08 70.3 2008-09 130.6 2009-10 -120.6 2009-10 (Jul-Apr) -7.9 2010-11 (Jul-Apr) 132.2