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Leading by example

Lawyer, environmentalist and Lahore Electric Supply Company chairman Ahmed Rafay Alam talks to The News about solar power solutions

“With water in dams coming down to dead level, natural gas reserves depleting fast, little breakthrough in tapping renewable sources of energy, prolonged power outages are unavoidable.

“I got a 3KV solar power system installed in my house at a cost of Rs700,000. This runs all the fans, lights, televisions, a WiFi modem and a big double-door refrigerator. The airconditioners, the washing machine, the iron and the hair dryer run on Lesco supply.

“Ours is a high-quality hybrid system which switches to different sources of power automatically in case one stops working. The first priority is solar power, the second is Lesco supply (when it gets dark) and third, the storage battery when there is a power outage during the night.

“The average cost of electricity produced by sunlight works out to Rs300 per watt and this includes the cost of solar panels, invertors and storage batteries.

“The initial costs may be high but so are the benefits. My consumption of electricity units has declined by more than 50 per cent. And I save even more, considering that the system helps me save the units charged under higher slab rates.

“The government and people must opt for this solution as running power plants on furnace oil is not feasible. The cost of oil is increasing, which leads to a rise in the price of electricity bills. The fuel adjustment charges are levied just to offset the effects of increase in oil prices.

“At present, solar power solution providers are targeting high-end domestic consumers but middle-income households can also benefit from these savings, if the banking sector agrees to finance solar power systems. A lot of people would avail of this option and could pay back the loans in three to five years. If banks can lease loans worth millions for cars, why can’t they do so for this purpose?

“Today, Pakistan is facing an electricity shortfall of between 6,000 megawatts and 6,500 megawatts. This is less than the 7,000 megawatts of solar power produced electricity which was added to the consumption pool of German subscribers last year. In Germany, private consumers have the option of to selling excess units to the national grid and Nepra should allow Pepco to buy units from consumers here.”

– Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

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