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Solar power – an end to energy crisis?

The trend of installing solar panels for residential and commercial purposes is increasing with every passing day, and is beginning to look like the foremost solution to the country’s growing energy scarcity problem. An on-grid solar power generator of 178 KW, installed at Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), has set the precedence for defining procedures and strategies at the national level for on-grid solar power generation. This project is the first of its kind in the country, as the excess electricity will be delivered to the national grid under a feed-in tariff (FIT) regime.

According to sources, the government plans to illuminate 250 houses (300 watts) with solar panels in rural areas. Furthermore, more than 500 people will get indirect employment due to the activities generated in the field of rural electrification through solar energy. Around 51 scientists, engineers, technicians, skilled and semi-skilled people will also get direct employment in the production of high quality solar panels initiated by the Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET).

The basic objective of this project is the up-gradation of silicon crystal growing and wafering, cell fabrication and lamination facilities. It will also help enhance the indigenous production of solar cells and modules up to 80 KW per annum, along with the promotion of clean and renewable solar energy through the photovoltaic process. “This project of production of solar panels has been designed to upgrade the facilities to produce 80 KW photovoltaic modules per year,” said an official. He added that the project is meant to promote clean energy technology, and the utilization of this product will save an additional 43 tonnes of carbon dioxide. After the production of 80 KW, it will generate power equal to 173 megawatt hours (MWh) annually and, in ten years time, even 9.5 gigawatt hours (Gwh). This is equal to 900 tonnes of Kerosene oil in 10 years, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,365 tonnes.

Recently, a Korea-based energy company, CK Solar Korea, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Balochistan government for the installation of a 300 MW solar power plant. The plant, which is being developed in Quetta, will cost the developers nearly 900 million dollars, and is expected to be completed by 2016. The government has leased 1,500 acres of land in Khuchlak and Pishin for the project, which is expected to overcome the shortfall of electricity in province. The government is also planning to install 20 solar powered water pumps in ten districts of the province under water supply schemes.

Punjab has one of the highest solar radiation amounts in the world and has the potential of producing in excess of a million Mega Watt of energy per annum from solar, revealed a number of reports compiled on the solar power potential of the province. “In Punjab, Cholistan and two other sites have been earmarked for solar projects of 10, 30 and 50 MW in size”. SOLAR AUTO RICKSHAW ON CARDS: As part of the initiatives being taken by the government to overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan, the government has introduced solar auto rickshaw which will reduce dependence on costly fuel.

The Senate has recently been informed that “Solar Auto Rickshaw” technology has successfully been developed indigenously to help overcome the acute shortage of energy and rising costs of fuel. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid has told the House that United Services International Group (USIG) of Lahore and Pakistan Institute of Technology for Minerals and Advance Engineering Materials Lahore had developed the technology through collaborative research. He said that the rickshaw is now ready for operations and would use solar energy instead of petrol or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). He further said that the cost of one solar auto rickshaw was about Rs 2, 30,000 which could be easily covered in one year, adding that its normal speed was 50 to 70 kilometers per hour. The solar rickshaw operated on five solar panels along with five batteries and was driven by one Direct Current (DC) Motor.

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