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Solar energy — an inexpensive energy of the future

Published on 22nd Dec, Edition 51, 2014

 

Solar energy venture of Nizam energy provides the ray of hope for future development, economic stability.

Solar energy is positioned to become a new source of power to lead the world to a low-carbon future and hopefully, away from a global climate catastrophe, which is caused by rising emissions from burning fossil fuels.

For solar energy to become so cheap that it can compete with coal and oil, its deployments needs to be greatly scaled up. Solar energy is now causing trade wars between the US, Europe and China, which depicting that this sector is growing and is lucrative hence having all the competitiveness.

In South Asia, Bangladesh and India are quickly deploying this technology, which is becoming cheaper every passing year. Pakistan is also looking for Chinese investment in Pakistan for generation of electricity through solar.

China has a glut of solar panel production and Chinese manufacturers that supply most of the world’s solar panels are struggling to avoid bankruptcy after expanding too fast. The resulting plunge in solar-panel prices means that investors can expand into new markets. Pakistan can use this opportunity to request the Chinese government for major solar power installation financed by China.

Currently, Pakistan had an installed capacity of around 22,000 megawatts and a demand of only around 16,000-18,000 megawatts. What we need to do in the short term is to finance the circular debt and address the massive theft and corruption that takes place in our power sector.

As per report of the Alternative Energy Development Board in Pakistan (AEDB), which is promoting renewable energy in the country, Solar PV (photo-voltaic) and Solar Thermal based markets are rapidly developing in the country without any government subsidies or direct assistance. Although Pakistan has yet to install its first ‘MW scale’ solar PV project, there had been a sharp increase in the capacity of installed Solar PV technology in the country during 2012 (small-scale kW range installations).

The AEDB report explains that “Considering the significant energy shortfall with heavy load shedding in major cities of the country with hardly any electricity being supplied to the rural communities, increasing trust and popularity of the effectiveness of the technology within the country as well as reduction in Solar PV systems globally, this trend is not surprising and is expected to continue in the future. It is also worth mentioning that development of the capacities of the local technical staff and vendors working in the Solar PV market has also resulted in improved quality of O&M and played a key role in developing consumer confidence to install Solar PV systems.”

 

Experts told PAGE that the cost of a reliable 5.0 kW solar system is under one million of rupees and there are several reputed suppliers selling solar panels, deep cycle batteries and inverters. There is also a massive growth in small wind turbines (upto 10 kW) and again a 5.0 kW system (for Sindh and Balochistan’s windy coastal areas) could be installed in 1.0 to 1.5 million rupees. Before buying and installing such a system, a household should first reduce the house’s total energy requirement by cutting down all wastage of energy.

But solar power is not just a solution for the middle classes in the country. For millions of poor people living off the grid in this country, solar energy is perhaps the only way they will ever get access to electricity. There are over 10 million households in Pakistan without electricity. These households spend at least $750 million a year on kerosene for lighting. For $1.2 billion, which is about worth 18 months of kerosene bill, each one of these households can get a solar energy system. The payback period is 18 months, and if the households were to regularly pay back to the providers what they saved on kerosene, the provider would make a ton of money within two years. Solar energy has a substantial role to play in the country and needs to be actively promoted by the government on a priority basis.

On the other hand, Nizam Energy has carried forward the 150 years of legacy of its parent concern H. Nizam Din and Sons, which has been engaged in various businesses along with humanitarian and developmental work since 1869, by stepping in to the alternate energy sector in Pakistan at the time of extreme need. In the wake of the present energy crisis in the country, the solar energy venture of Nizam Energy provides the ray of hope for future development and economic stability.

Solar energy can also effectively solve the power issues in Pakistan especially with DC portable system in under or un electrified areas of Pakistan, a spokesman of Nizam Energy told PAGE. The conventional energy sources are expensive and hazardous to the environment whereas solar power is eco-friendly and economical in the long run due to its one-time cost, he said.

He said Nizam Energy has been delivering large scale turnkey solar projects. The company pioneered the solar PV grid-tied installation of 350 KW at a textile facility in Pakistan. Nizam Energy (Pvt) Ltd has installed above 700 solar projects, including intricate and extensive PV installations, throughout the country by working closely with the clients; thus, gaining experience un-matched by our competitors.
The spokesman opined that solar is viable for commercial venture to lock-in its energy cost in Pakistan. He said: “Because of the international declining prices of photo-voltaic (PV), total installation costs of gird-tied systems are around Rs150-130/kWp in Pakistan on flat concrete open roof with quality components. Solar PV modules are generally warranted for 25 years and suffer only minor degradation around 0.5% ~0.8% pa during that time, so all that is needed to predict the generation is the local insolation.”

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