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Using solar energy: four ways

SOLAR energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available. The countries which have been able to capture this great source of energy have cut down their running expenses of homes, commercial plazas and industrial units. In Sri Lanka most of the industrial and commercial units are run on solar energy. We have a bright sun from Peshawar to Karachi throughout the year. Today`s technology allows us to capture this power in several ways, giving public and commercial entities flexible ways to employ both the heat and the light of the sun. Solar energy is the ultimate solution to our problem. Continuous rise in the prices of furnace oil and diminishing resources of natural gas compel us to switch to some alternative and viable source of energy. The greatest challenge the Pakistan solar market faces is scaling up production and distribution of solar energy technology to drive the price down to be on a par with traditional fossil fuel sources. As a matter of fact, it is one-time investment but still consumers (both residential and commercial) fail to understand the long-term benefits of this technology. Our economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for about 20 per cent of the GDP, while the service sector accounts for 53 per cent of the GDP. Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas, including the telecommunications, real estate and energy. Other important industries include apparel and textiles (accounting for nearly 60 per cent of exports), food processing, chemicals manufacture, and iron and steel industries. Pakistan`s exports in 2008 amounted to $20.62bn. Pakistan is a rapidly developing country that needs multiple sources of energy to fulfil its needs in agricultural, as well as industrial, sector. Mechanised farming has increased needs of energy even in rural areas many times. In remote areas like Balochistan with thin population density, solar energy is thought to be the most appropriate alternative. Solar energy can be produced on a distributed basis, called distributed generation, with equipment located on rooftops or on ground-mounted fixtures close to where the energy is used. Large-scale concentrating solar power systems can also produce energy at a central power plant. There are four ways we harness solar energy photovoltaics (converting light to electricity), heating and cooling systems (solar thermal), concentrating solar power (utility scale), and lighting. Active solar energy systems employ devices that convert the sun`s heat or light to another form of energy we use. Passive solar refers to special siting, design or building materials that take advantage of the sun`s position and availability to provide direct heating or lighting. Passive solar also considers the need for shading devices to protect buildings from excessive heat from the sun. The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is located in Islamabad. The government created the AEDB in May 2003 to act as the central national body on the subject of renewable energy. The Gharo Wind Power Plant is one of the first projects of the Alternative Energy Development Board. To great surprise, the AEDB has not been able to put forward any thing viable and practical. Probably it has become our usual practice to make committees, boards, commissions, etc . Pakistan needs result-oriented efforts to overcome the energy crisis in the country. It is hoped that the AEDB will concentrate on solar energy options that suit to our climate and weather conditions.

Solar solutions to IDPs’ cellphone charging needs at Jalozai

Tribesmen have begun exploring solar power as an alternate to meet their power consumption requirements during prolonged power outages in the Fata.

Studying in Grade-V in Para Mamoond area of Bajaur Agency two years ago, Qari Mulla, 14, knew nothing about the conversion of sunlight into electricity.

However, today, he earns a livelihood out of solar energy for his internally displaced family at Jalozai camp near Peshawar.

A blue thick polysilicon-based photovoltaic panel fetches him from Rs100 to Rs150 on a good sunny day.

Connected to a heavy-duty energy storage battery, the small solar panel is good for generating enough electricity for energising rechargeable batteries of dozens of mobile phones daily.

“This is what I do here,” said the teenager placing a cellphone on a charger hooked up to an iron nail among over a dozen inserted at some distance from each other on two parallel thin wooden blocks.

The nails, according to him, receive energy from the main grid (battery) through an active wire.

Mr Mulla said he charged Rs10 for energising a single cellphone battery, shouldering his father`s responsibility in earning livelihood for their displaced family living in a nearby tent.

He said the idea of setting up a cellphone recharging facility by using sunlight was floated by his paternal uncle, earning a livelihood during days in displacement.

“My father bought the panel from Karkhano market a year ago and set up this shop,” said Mr Mulla.

It cost his father Rs14,000 to buy the Chinese solar panel and another Rs3,000 to purchase the battery.

The sprawling section of the camp where they have been running the facility doesn’t have electricity. Hence, demand for the recharging of mobile phone batteries is but natural.

The teenager and his father are not the only ones making a profitable use of sunlight in the Jalozai internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp.

Some shopkeepers operating mudmade shops in a nearby temporary bazaar are also earning income by converting sunshine into electricity.

Johar Ali, an IDP from Mohmandagency, who owns and runs a small confectionary shop outside the camp, installed a solar panel and a storage battery some months ago after his family returned to the village.

“It helped me to remain connected with my family,” Mr Ali said, adding that he enjoyed the freedom of recharging his cellphone battery whenever he needed in the absence of electricity supply to the camp.

He spent Rs13,500 to buy the panel and a battery.

“I invested the money, and other shopkeepers are also benefiting from the facility,” he said. Unlike him, Mr Mulla is not enjoying the technology. He has lost his freedom to it.

“There was more enjoyment back in the village where I could play football with my cousins and friends, but now I have to sit here for the whole day taking care of others’ phone sets,” said the youngster.

It takes 30 minutes to energise a cellphone battery, binding Mr Mulla to stay put while recharging takes place. In case of a major system malfunction he has to get it repaired from Peshawar, 20 kilometres from the camp.

“At times, it takes a whole day to get it repaired,” he said, feeling nostalgia about his days in the Para Mamoond primary school.

The use of innovative ways to find solutions is not restricted to tribesmen living in IDP camps only.

Tribesmen with sufficient means have also begun exploring solar power as an alternate arrangement to meet their power consumption requirements during prolonged power outages in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

`The number of people inquiring about the panels has grown,` says the owner of a solar panel business in an upscale shopping centre in Peshawar.

According to him, a number of visitors from Fata showed interest in installing solar panels in their houses.

He said a man from Darra Adamkhel and another from Landi Kotal in Khyber Agency collected information from him for installing solar powered geezers.

Solar-powered irrigation system being planned

The KPK has decided to use millions of acres of barren land to produce solar energy for the irrigation purpose.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to bring millions of acres of barren land from Nizampur to Dera Ismail Khan under cultivation by introducing solar system to ensure electricity supply for irrigation.

Besides, the government will also initially import 500 saplings of different fruits like apricot, grapes, almond and pomegranate from Afghanistan so that fine quality products could be introduced in the market.

The decisions were taken at a meeting, chaired by agriculture minister Arbab Ayub Jan here at civil secretariat on Thursday. The minister said that the provincial government had agreed to support the project. He regretted that despite sufficient water resources the Agriculture Engineering Department could not prepare a feasible scheme in this regard.

He said that 550 tube-wells had been approved in the annual development programme, but the department had failed to show any progress in this regard.

Mr Jan said that exploring new water resources for meeting the needs of people and livestock was urgently needed. He said that the government was determined to bring barren land in Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Karak under cultivation. He asked the researchers to focus on seasonal and other vegetables and fruit to increase quality production.

The minister also approved a project of new variety of sugarcane ‘Chasham’. With the cultivation of refined seeds the government will be able to save money, time, transportation charges and labour.

He said that by introducing the new seeds the farmers would be able to meet their requirement from 1,000kg of seeds instead of cultivating 80,000kg of sugarcane seeds.

He said that olive production would also be increased as the government could earn Rs4 billion a year foreign exchange with cultivation of only 400,000 olive plants after every five years.

Secretary agriculture Afsar Khan, directors general of agriculture extension, agriculture research and water management attended the meeting.

Malaysians keen to invest in Pakistan

Special envoy to the Malaysian Prime Minister on Infrastructure Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, said Malaysians are keen to invest in coal power generation and infrastructure development projects in Pakistan.Vellu said this while heading a Malaysian delegation during a meeting with Federal Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar here on Wednesday, said a press release issued here.“Malaysia has tripled its capacity in the infrastructure development sector and has also expertise in the power generation projects. The Malaysian investors who are already working in Pakistan in various hydel and thermal projects are keen to increase their volume of investment here,” Vellu said.

“Malaysians are also interested in projects like infrastructure development and construction. The investors working here in Pakistan are satisfied and enjoying good relations with Pakistani community,” he said.

He asked the Minister to provide details of the projects being offered to the private investors for investment and also invited the Minister to visit Malaysia to see their expertise in the power generation projects.

The Minister while welcoming the delegation briefed the current energy requirements of the country and offered to invest in the coal, hydel and wind power generation projects.

He said that power sector in Pakistan has great potential and the investors are getting reasonable return on their investment.

“We will welcome the investment in coal, hydel and wind power generation projects which are future baseline projects for the country,” the minister said.

He also offered the investment in the coal mining projects.

The Minister said the Ministry would provide details of the projects for investment and appointed Additional Secretary as focal person in this regard.

People in Pakistan and other countries to get solar energy access via UN- backed initiative

A Mauritius-based company announced Thursday that it will provide access to low-cost solar energy for 33 million people in African and Asian countries, including Pakistan, for the next four years, as part of a UN-backed initiative to fight poverty. The solar energy provider, ToughStuff, will expand access to low-cost, durable solar panels and solar battery packs to low-income communities in 10 African countries (Burundi, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and four South Asian countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal).

The company’s efforts are part of Business Call to Action (Bcta), a global initiative supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that encourages private sector efforts to develop inclusive business models that can have both commercial success and a positive impact in development, a UN news release said.

The company estimates that some $520 million will be saved by consumers by switching from kerosene or biomass fuel to solar energy. In addition, carbon emissions will be reduced by up to 1.2 million tons by 2016. To provide its services, the company will rely on a network of village-level entrepreneurs that are provided with training on how to sell, rent, or provide access to affordable energy services.

Companies like ToughStuff invest in communities by providing cleaner, healthier energy options through core business operations, said Susan Chaffin, programme manager for BCtA. This commitment will help to boost development and improve social equity in a sustainable way that is good for the environment and good for business.

Nearly half the world’s population lacks reliable access to modern energy services and more than 20 per cent of the global population 1.4 billion people remains without access to electricity. According to a recent UNDP report, household air pollution from the use of biomass fuel is expected to cause more than 1.5 million deaths a year by 2030.

The initiative will also help to further the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

Workshop on Institutional Collaboration for Indigenous Production

“We need a strategy to pool our resources and expertise available with public sector organizations to initiate local production of solar lighting and electricity generation system. This will help boosting the national efforts to overcome power shortage”. This was stated by Dr Abdul Kadir Khanzada, Chairman, National Assembly Standing Committee on Science and Technology during a workshop on Institutional Collaboration for Indigenous Production in Renewable Energy Sector.

Dr Khanzada appreciated the launching of Alternative Energy Resource Portal by Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and considered it as a useful source of information for individuals and organizations interested to convert their homes and offices on alternative energy especially solar. He asked the renewable energy organizations to provide report of their capacity and resources to the Ministry of Science & Technology within one week. He suggested presenting such reports to the Energy Think Tank Committee of PEC to develop concrete recommendations, for indigenous production of solar products, which will be sent to the Prime Minister for approval.


Secretary Ministry of Science & Technology, Mr Irfan Nadeem expressed that an integrated holistic approach would help arriving at a workable strategy and practical roadmap to take up indigenous production of solar lighting and power generation system.

Engr Rukhsana Zuberi, Chairperson PEC stated that renewable sector has enormous business and employment potential for investors as well as individuals. Introducing Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) and promoting on-grid solar electricity generation will make energy everybody’s business, she added. Renewable energy is popular in countries where FIT existed and enabling policies such as tax benefits are implemented, Engr Zuberi said. She informed that the countries having fabulous growth in renewable energy production are the one having a guarantee to purchase electricity from utility companies with FIT, e.g. Germany, UK and Spain. FIT supports the market development of renewable energy technologies and put legal obligation on utilities to purchase electricity. It resulted in increase of 50% of wind, 75% of solar and 90% of farm biogas production worldwide. FIT are to be announced by NEPRA, PEC and IESCO are closely working on it. Feed In Tariff is need of the day, we should encourage people to put solar panels at rooftop of houses, connect them to the grid, make profit by selling electricity as well as reduce energy bills, she added. Engr. Zuberi informed the participants that Pakistan Engineering Council has pioneered the first on-grid solar system which will pave the way to channelize private money into energy sector.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Science and Technology convened a meeting of all stakeholder organizations in second week of this month to review the state and capacity of manufacturing of solar power system in the country. As an outcome of the meeting, a need was felt to evolve a holistic approach to harness solar power with indigenous resources for which this workshop was organized by MoST and PEC at Islamabad. The workshop was aimed at evolving strategy for pooling available resources and expertise available with various organizations. The objective is to realize efficient and expeditious utilization of Renewable Energy Resources, initially solar power, by public as well as private sector.

PRESS RELEASE: Clean Energy by Solar Electricity Generation System

The Government of Japan has extended a grant of Yen 480,000,000 (US $ 5.4 million) for the program” Introduction of Clean Energy by Solar Electricity Generation System” in Pakistan . Today. Mr. Sibtain Fazal Halim Secretary, Economic Affairs Division and H.E.Mr. Chihiro Atsumi, Ambassador of Japan in Pakistan signed the Exchange of Note on behalf of their respective Governments. The Grant Agreement was witnessed by the Head of Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA).

Under the Clean Energy Initiative, two on-grid solar power generation systems (100 KW each) will be installed under Grant-aid from the Government of Japan through JICA, one at Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and other at roof of Planning Commission’s building. The project will promote clean energy utilization and will help achieve emission reduction by installing the new system which will be connected to the national grid. The system is expected to reduce the gas emission, by replacing the part of electric power generated by fossil fuel and contribute to the climate change policy of Pakistan .

This project is first of its kind in the country, which would set precedent as a role model of defining procedures and strategy at the level for on-grid solar power generation and are expected to prove an effective measure to overcome the energy shortage, emphasizing on solar power, for which there is big scope with relatively less investment.

Mr.Chihiro Atsumi said that Japan is concerned about the challenges caused by the climate change in Pakistan , such as receding glaciers and lack of rain fall. During the Copenhagen conference held last month, Japan has committed to reduce the carbon emission, and Pakistan and Japan will try to utilize the solar energy to achieve this goal.

Secretary EAD, said that Government of Japan has deep and diversified relations with Pakistan , Japan is the biggest donor partner of Pakistan and continued its support in Education, Health, Energy, Environment and Disaster management. Japan has also helped in capacity building and institution building in Pakistan.

Pakistan engineering Council, Chairperson Ms.Rukhsana Zubari said that the launch of this project and the awareness created through media can lead to the solutions of energy problems. This system is economically viable and will also help in income generation, she added.

on-line grid solar system introduced by Pakistan Engineering Council

PEC introduces New on-line grid solar system
Pakistan Engineering Council has introduced first ever on-line grid solar system to overcome power shortage in the country. The new smart grid solar technology is based on Feed in Tariff (FIT) system to attract the people to make investment in energising their own houses and buildings.

Through this robust technology, the power companies will be able to purchase surplus power to be produced by small installed solar units by the individuals, said Engineer Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, Chairperson of Pakistan Engineering Council in a press conference here on Saturday.

To start with, Rukhsana Zuberi said two solar electricity generation systems of 180 KW each will be installed at PEC building and Planning Commission for which Japan has extended financial support. Tokyo has extended a grant of 480 million Yen to Pakistan under Clean Earth programme. The six storied building of the PEC will be converted on solar energy by 2012. The new system is a way forward to completely overcome energy shortage as the solar system to be installed by the people in their places will be connected with the grid system to pass on surplus power to the main power system, she said.

She said through hectic negotiations, IESCO has agreed to buy excess electricity. This breakthrough project can generate plenty of job opportunities to dwelling units.

The surplus energy will be used by power-starved industries in the country, she said. The basic incentive in the new system is FIT which has been recognized by the Government of Pakistan. FIT is to be announced by NEPRA and IESCO working closely with PEC. FIT system has produced wonderful results in other countries including Germany where this system is being adopted by the people, she said adding it is a good investment opportunity for the people in Pakistan with good return in shape of solid profit.

PEC is determined to popularise this new solar system throughout the country as this is the best way forward for producing energy at cheaper rates in the long run.

0.08pc Balochistan solar energy can serve national needs

Solar Energy APF chief wants risk-averse banks to extend energy finances Says corruption, lack of good governance, security keeping investors at bay

Being a patriotic Pakistani one tends to do some good for his homeland only to find a deep-rooted corruption, lack of good governance, transparency and well-thought-out policies hindering his way in one way or another. Awais Khan, the president and chief executive of American Pakistan Foundation (APF), is one such overseas Pakistani who is striving hard to bring economic development and social change in, what he believes to be, a resource-rich Pakistan. Policymakers in Pakistan are desperately wandering here and there to find a sustainable solution to the fast ingraining energy crises in the country. Khan, who lives outside Pakistan, has a clearer vision to find a ‘scalable’ remedy to this economy-crippling menace. Pakistan, he says, through employing right governance and a well-thought-out energy policy, could generate thousands of megawatts electricity using its vast but still untapped sources of solar, hydro, hydroelectric, wind and waste energy scattered across the country. Khan, a leading American businessman of Pakistani origin, refers to a study revealing that if tapped only 0.08 per cent of the solar energy reserves in Balochistan province could cater to energy needs of the entire country. “The banks could step up to lease and finance the energy equipment,” APF chief said during a roundtable discussion with a group of journalists here at the residence of the US Consul General. Singling out the fast disappearing energy-crises-hit cottage industry, the investment banker said the country has a potential of generating 43,000MW electricity using hydro and hydroelectric energy sources available in the country’s northern areas. Some 50,000MW of wind power could be generated from the coastal corridor stretching from Karachi to Gwadar, Balochistan. Khan said agri-waste like cow dung, etc could also be used for energy generation in the country. Lack of funding, energy policy, security and corruption are major stumbling blocks, APF chief underlined, for achieving these goals. “There are lots of (financing) vehicles but not a lot of people know how to access these vehicles,” Khan lamented. He said multilateral finders like World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) were present in the country to fund these mega energy projects but, unfortunately, 99.9 per cent of the local institutions were falling short of meeting the “broader criterion” set for getting funding from these multinational organisations. Institutional capacity building, bringing domestic work standards at par with that of international ones and experienced and skilled managers are the three prerequisites, Khan said, constituting this broader funding criterion. The risk-averse banks, he said, could bridge this financial gap through extending more advances to the private individual and institutional borrowers willing to install the sophisticated energy generating equipment. Khan complained about the deeply-ingrained corruption in Pakistan which deters his organisation, APF, from working on big projects. “To a personal perspective, I found it (corruption) a frequent occurrence and biggest challenge besides security,” Khan told the journalists. “To get permission from the government (to undertake a certain project) a lot of under-the-table things happen,” he elaborated. Attributing this menace to lack of right system and right people, the American businessman urged the need for creating political awareness among voters in the forthcoming general elections. “Tell them that your vote matters so use it in right way,” Khan urged the journalists. For making entrepreneurship a success story in Pakistan, the APF CEO suggested an easy access to cheap capital, good governance, a right legal system and a business-friendly security climate which he said was lacking in case of Pakistan. “Pakistan has been suffering from the image issue. And number one concern of every entrepreneur is whether my people and finances are safe,” he said. About APF, Khan said the privately-funded organisation had a goal to provide one million individuals with energy by 2015 under its “rural electrification” plan in areas the most neglected or where the need was more pressing. He said, having benefited over 42,000 flood affectees in Pakistan, APF was set up in Dec 2009 to leverage the Pak-American diaspora for economic development and social change in Pakistan.

Suntech tops 2011 solar PV module rankings

Suntech Power was the largest supplier of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules by shipment volumes for the second consecutive year in 2011 as Chinese manufacturers tightened their grip on the market, according IMS Research.

Despite challenging market conditions throughout 2011, Suntech became the first supplier to ship over 2 GW of solar PV modules, and topped IMS Research’s module rankings for the second year in a row.

The only non-Chinese manufacturer ranked in the top five was US-based solar thin-film supplier First Solar, which was ranked as second largest supplier, also for the second year running.

Chinese suppliers Yingli, Trina and Canadian Solar (considered as a Chinese supplier as the majority of its operations are based in China) all gained one place in the rankings to make up the rest of the top five, displacing Japan’s Sharp to sixth position.

Market consolidation

IMS Research also found that the solar PV module supplier base consolidated considerably in 2011 with the largest suppliers collectively gaining share of the market.

“Leading suppliers were able to leverage their strong brands to grow their shipments in highly competitive market conditions in 2011,” says Sam Wilkinson, Senior Market Analyst at IMS Research. “2011 claimed a number of victims, but nearly all of the top-10 suppliers grew their shipments and collectively they accounted for nearly half of total industry shipments.”

Lower Q4

Although 8 of the 10 largest solar PV suppliers grew their annual shipments by more than 10%, most suppliers recorded lower shipments in Q4’11 compared to the previous quarter.

“Despite a very strong end-of-year rush to install in Germany, high inventory levels for PV modules in the supply chain meant that this was not reflected in suppliers’ shipments. The rush also came later than many expected and so many suppliers were not able to capitalise on this,” Wilkinson says.

Growing Chinese dominance

Canadian Solar and Trina Solar were amongst the few suppliers that bucked this trend by increasing their shipments in Q4’11, with Canadian Solar becoming the third largest solar PV supplier in the quarter and increasing its annual market share by over one percentage point.

Another significant market share gain allowed Chinese-based Jinko Solar to become the only new name in IMS Research’s top 10 suppliers in 2011. Having more than doubled its annual shipments, Jinko Solar was ranked as the seventh largest module supplier in 2011.