All govt buildings need run on total solar power

May 15, 2013 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: Energy crisis, especially very costly and scarce electricity is the most pressing economic problem of Pakistan and the coming government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by Mian Nawaz Sharif needs to fully utilized abundant solar energy in the country and the first steps in this regard would be turning all government buildings – offices, schools, colleges, universities, healthcare centers, police stations, streetlights, railways installations, etc – on total solar power.

This single step if carried out dedicatedly would not only save billions of rupees in the head of electricity bills but also help in provision of more electricity to domestic sector and industry, thus denting the menace of load shedding.

The whole world is going to utilize solar energy optimally. The concept of developing ‘solar cities’ is getting popular not only the developed world but also developing countries like neighbouring Indian, where the government is working to convert more than 50 cities into solar cities.

Pakistan has immense potential to cater all its electricity needs from solar energy. It is said that if only 0.25% of Balochistan is covered with solar panels with an efficiency of 20%, enough electricity would be generated to cover all of Pakistani demand.

A solar city is an urban community that is committed to the development of sustainable energy to power its development, rather than the continuing reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels. It is a worldwide movement that seeks to share knowledge and best practice on tackling some of the major issues of the early 21st century – that of climate change and peak oil.

Solar energy is very cost effective. USA, Germany, Australia, Brazil, UK, Japan, India, China and Thailand are now generating electricity in bulk through solar system. Japan is generating electricity at the cost of only two cents per kilowatt per hour (KWH).

India is amongst the counties committed to fully utilize solar energy. Fifty-four cities across India have received in-principle approval to be developed as ‘solar cities’ by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The draft Master Plans have been prepared for 28 cities, of which eight have been approved by the Ministry for implementation; the development of projects is in progress in Agra and Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli (Maharashtra), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Kohima (Nagaland), Aizawl (Mizoram) and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

An amount of Rs. 19.23 crore has been sanctioned for preparation of Master Plans, solar city cells and promotional activities for 41 cities, out of which Rs. 4.22 crore has been released. Further, an amount of Rs.11.98 crore has been sanctioned for execution of renewable energy projects in five cities, out of which Rs. 3.87 crore has been released.

The Indian government says the criteria set for the identification of cities include a city population between 50,000 to 50 lakh (with relaxation given to special category States, including the north-eastern States), initiatives and regulatory measures already taken along with a high level of commitment in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. The renewable energy has the potential to be cost effective with advancement in technologies and economies of scale.

In view of the growing needs of energy in Pakistan, the efficient use and development of renewable energy sources has become a major issue in the country. Fortunately, Pakistan is among those countries in which sun warms the surface throughout the year and therefore has a strong potential for solar power generation.

Pakistan is an exceptionally sunny country and experts say if only 0.25% of Balochistan is covered with solar panels with an efficiency of 20%, enough electricity would be generated to cover all of Pakistani demand.

Solar energy makes much sense for Pakistan for several reasons: firstly, 70% of the population lives in 50,000 villages that are very far away from the national grid, according to a report by the Solar Energy Research Centre (SERC). Connecting these villages to the national grid would be very costly, thus giving each house a solar panel would be cost efficient and would empower people both economically and socially.

Pakistan has a potential to generate over 2.324 million megawatts (mw) electricity per annum through solar system. However there is need to manufacture all components of solar system locally in order to make them viable for the local as well export market. Presently, solar panels are imported in Pakistan. Though some companies of Germany and China intend to install solar panel manufacturing units in Pakistan, but the government has to seriously take efforts in setting up of solar panel factories in Pakistan by giving them good incentives.

The government should work on long-term plans to make Pakistan a leading solar energy consuming country; however, as a short-term measure the government could run its buildings, installations and institutions on solar energy. If our schools, hospitals, offices, police stations, tube-wells and other buildings are run on the solar energy the government could save a huge chunk of its budget for its popular public welfare projects besides saving a lot of electricity for domestic and industrial consumers.