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Solution to Pakistan’s energy crisis

Published on 9th Mar, Edition 10, 2015

 

Pakistan a nation with sized land area, population and economy. The country has lots of sun with density higher than many of the Asian countries.

The country is facing a huge problem of energy, which has affected both the agriculture and the industry. With shortage of funds and lack of knowledge in the energy sector, too much of the bureaucratic thinking has caused lots of frustration among the people of Pakistan, which has been the result of improper planning, lack of expertise in the field of energy. Among the top ten countries working on solar today, Germany and China are on the top of the list in competition with each other to install solar systems and to produce energy. The top 10 countries in the world using solar power are as follows;

Germany: 35.5 Gw (2010: 9.8 Gw — 1st Place)

In 2010, Germany was clearly the world leader, and has only continued the trend. In 2009 alone, Germany installed 3.8 GW of PV solar energy capacity, and the country has added at least 3.3 GW of new solar capacity per year, and more like 6 GW per year between 2010 and 2012. “The combination of a proven feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme, good financing opportunities, a large availability of skilled PV companies, and a good public awareness of the PV technology, largely contributed to this success,” European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) reported.

Despite a slowdown in 2013, Germany is expected to remain the top solar market in Europe for the coming years, and still boasts a quarter of the world’s installed PV capacity 26 percent, compared to the 13 percent held by each of the next two countries on the list, Italy and China.

China: 18.3 Gw (2010: 305 Gw — 8th Place)

Everything that China does, it does big. As the world’s most populous nation, and the one with the biggest carbon footprint, it’s great news that China has made such a major commitment to solar power. Since our 2009 research, China has grown its solar capacity by an astounding 6,000 percent — from less than one-third of a gigawatt of capacity to 18.3 GW. It helps that China is a major solar panel manufacturer, and the government has had to repeatedly raise its renewable energy targets — from a plan of 20 GW by 2020 to 20-30 GW by 2020 to the current target of an astounding 70 GW of solar by 2017. Coupled with a commitment to cut its coal use, the world’s biggest carbon polluter could soon also be the country powered with the most green energy.

Italy: 17.6 Gw (2010: 1.2 Gw — 5th Place)

Not only has Italy continued its leadership in solar — rising from fifth place in 2010 to third place as of the end of 2013 — it generates more of its energy from solar than any other nation, with 7.8 percent of its energy coming from solar, compared to 6.2 percent for Germany

Japan: 13.6 Gw (2010: 2.6 Gw — 3rd Place)

Japan fell from third place in 2010 to fourth place in 2014, but remains also a country worth emulating — in the past four years the country has grown its solar capacity by more than 500 percent. Government residential PV programs, net-metering, high national solar energy goals to reach 28 GW by 2020 and 53 GW by 2030,

United States: 12 Gw (2010: 1.6 Gw — 4th Place)

It’s hard to believe that a country that grew its solar capacity by 750 percent in four years could still have lost standing in the global solar boom, but that just goes to show how quickly the field is changing. The United States have benefited as much as anyone from the steadily dropping price of solar, aided by smart financing and some supportive state-level policies to grow its domestic solar industry. With many large ground-mounted solar projects in the pipeline, installed capacity in the US is expected to grow significantly in coming years

Spain: 5.6 Gw (2010: 3.4 Gw — 2nd Place)

Spain was the world leader in newly installed PV solar energy (2,605 MW) in 2008 due to the government’s focus on creating a national solar energy industry, but has since dropped significantly — between 2010 and 2013; the country didn’t even double its capacity, whereas Germany nearly quadrupled its solar capacity. The reasons for this drop are attributed to complexity and delays related to a new government subsidy program and a decrease in energy demand due to the economic crisis.

France: 4.6 Gw (2010: 272 Gw — 9th Place)

France has continued to benefit from its well-designed FiT for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), but the country’s solar growth has been slowed by a lack of political support for solar incentives, which the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) in a report published earlier in 2014 (PDF) also attributed to attacks from the nuclear and fossil fuel energy industries.

Australia: 3.3 Gw (2010: 125 Gw)

The first of two newcomers to our list of the top 10 countries using solar power, Australia has in the past five years made the most of its sun-drenched status — though its continued growth is in question. At the end of 2009, the island nation claimed only 125 MW of solar capacity, but through smart policies including feed-in tariffs, rebates and a federal mandatory renewable energy target has grown that by 2600 percent, reaching 3.3 gigawatts by the end of 2013. Between steadily dropping solar prices and the fact that Australia boasts some of the greatest solar potential in the world, solar power costs less than half what grid electricity costs, although the current government is considering scaling back the federal Renewable Energy Target, which would slow if not stop the country’s upward trajectory in these lists.

Belgium: 3gw (2010: 363 Gw — 7th Place)

Belgium has been a surprising solar contender even since 2009. Belgium’s success was from “a well-designed Green Certificates scheme (which actually works as a Feed-in Tariff), combined with additional tax rebates and electricity self-consumption.” Those policies, coupled with the steady drop in solar panel prices, have kept Belgium growing its solar market year-over-year since 2009.

United Kingdom: 2.9 Gw (2010: 027 Gw)

Another poster child for the global solar boom, the United Kingdom was nearly a no-show in our 2009 research — it didn’t make the top 10 list by a long shot, with just 27 MW of solar capacity. But it has made quick growth since then, with the EPIA noting that in 2013, the UK nearly doubled its solar capacity, installing more even than Italy, the current 5th-place holder.

 

India: 2.3 Gw (2010: 120 Gw — 10th Place)

Similar to China, India has fast-increasing electricity demand and it has very high sun irradiation levels. It’s government has also been moving forward strongly on clean energy. It has a goal to reach 20 GW by 2020 as well. “Besides the National Solar Mission of 2009, the market expects much of the possible decision this year to define a long-term power purchase agreement that could definitively trigger PV deployment in India,” EPIA states. India could quickly rise higher on this list with proper government strategies.

Czech Republic: (2010: 0.47 Gw — 6th Place)

A generous FiT and simple administrative procedures have put the Czech Republic on this list. Per capita, it installed more new solar power than any other country besides Germany in 2009. The market growth has probably boomed unsustainably (and a little unexpectedly), however, and if appropriate policies aren’t put in place to slow it, the nascent solar bubble is expected to bust in the coming years.

If we look at the above list, Pakistan’s name is not near any where, though Pakistan represents a huge population where the demand of energy is increasing more than 7-10 percent annually.

To come over the problem of electricity, the government should provide incentives to the consumers, industry owners and the farmers to use solar as their source of energy. This will take away the pressure from the government and allow consumers etc to take the charge of their power supply. The government on both, central and provincial level should provide loans at very reasonable rates to the industry owners, farmers and the consumers to install solar system for the industry, farms and for the homes. The peak time of usage of energy is from 10 am to 4 pm. During this time the unused electricity produced by the homes, at the farms etc should be provided and transferred to the grid while the home owners and the farmer should be paid a sum of 50% of the tariff. For example if the utility company is charging Rs14 per KW per hour, the government should give a credit of Rs7 per kW per hour to the consumer which is supplying the electricity into the grid. This will help the consumers, industry owners and the farmers to pay off the cost of their solar systems that they have installed at their locations. With this scenario their systems will be paid off in shorter time. Most of the solar panels and the systems have a warranty of 10 to 15 years. After these systems are paid off, the electricity produced by these systems will become a revenue generating facility which could bring prosperity among the people. In addition it will save millions of dollars in foreign exchange with guaranteed supply of electricity as long as there are sunny days.

Solar systems at homes, at the farms and in the industry will become mini power plants connected to the grids. Throughout the sunniest hours of the day, a huge majority of solar homes produce more power than they consume. In this way, the utility provider would pay them for the excess power. In the USA on an average day, 93 percent of the solar homes transfer their electricity to the grid.

Stable energy prices

Renewable energy could provide affordable electricity across the country and can help stabilize energy prices in the future.

The costs of renewable energy technologies have declined steadily, and are projected to drop even more. For example, the average price of a solar panel has dropped almost 60 percent since 2011

Costs

Solar power is capital intensive, and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense. Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter (to turn the direct current produced by the panel into the alternating current used by household appliances), metering equipment (if it is necessary to see how much power is produced), and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear. Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid. The installation labor cost must also be factored in.

In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries (if installed) generally need replacement

Net Metering

A grid-connected system allows you to power your home or small business with solar energy during those periods (daily as well as seasonally) when the sun is shining. Any excess electricity you produce is fed back into the grid. When the solar based resources are unavailable, electricity from the grid supplies your needs, eliminating the expense of electricity storage devices like batteries.

In most states in the USA, power providers (i.e., electric utilities) allow net metering, an arrangement where the excess electricity generated by grid-connected solar energy systems “turns back” your electricity meter as it is fed back into the grid. If you use more electricity than your system feeds into the grid during a given month, you pay your power provider only for the difference between what you used and what you produced. Such program will help the local utilities as well as the consumers in Pakistan.

This article has been written by Shuja H. Zaidi, President & CEO, Chem-Energy Corporation, Los Angeles, California, USA. (Most of the references were taken from the US EIA and USDOE)

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