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Solar power future in Pakistan

Published on 22nd Dec, Edition 51, 2014


Pakistan has always been suffering from crises but the biggest crisis of all is the law and order and the shortage of energy which has led to the shut down of the industry, affecting the agriculture, lost foreign investment and departure of many companies from the country. People may understand the loss of foreign investment but the departure of the businesses and the companies from Pakistan has caused a great damage to Pakistan. This created unemployment, illegal activates within and outside government areas as well as private sectors. This caused an increase in corruption and loss of businesses. Most of the businesses moved to Bangladesh and African countries where the opportunities are great and situation is lot better than Pakistan.

The shut down of power plants also created a kiosk. Most of these power plants were installed during 90’s, mostly by foreign companies. Due to high fuel oil prices, shortage of gas in Pakistan and non-payments of the electricity provided to the utility companies forced these plants to shut down. The government never paid any attention to the potential problems. The only way these fuel oil based power plant could have operated if the government had intervened and increase the tariff to international price level. This, however, was not done causing the shut of many power plants and shortage of electricity.

After studying the energy problems in Pakistan, I have come to a conclusion that the only way to solve the energy problem is to use solar power for industry, agriculture, homes, schools, universities and colleges. The government neither has the expertise nor any feasible plans, which would produce more electricity. Recently, we conducted a survey and suggested to the schools, colleges, universities, business owners and farmers to use solar power, which will not only reduce their rates and cost of electricity but also they can work out a plan to sell excess electricity to the utility companies. There are about one million water pumps in Northern Punjab alone, out of which only 200,000 are connected to the electricity. The average time that the electricity is available varies. In winter it’s available about 10-12 hours but in summer when it needs most is available for less than 6-8 hours. The solar water pump will start in the morning and continue until the daylight ends. The system can be used for the industry, homes, colleges, universities and small businesses.


Submerged water pumps

The use of submerged or submersed water pump system is one of the best way to save energy for the water pumps. This will produced the same amount of water as 25 HP motor but will use 50% less electricity. Recently an American company, Chem-Energy Corporation, based in California installed a water pump, which operates on solar power. In village, Faizpur, District of Pakpattan. The solar system as shown in the picture produce 15 KW of electricity powered by solar and runs a 12.5 HP motors on 4 inches water line. Such solar based water pumps will produce the same amount of water compared to those powered by electricity. The average bill of a water pump, which runs not more than 8-10 hours a day due to power shortage in Pakistan is approximately $800-900 per month. Such systems will cost less than $16,000. Though, the initial cost of the system is high but it is economical to use these pumps in the long run. Comparing the bills paid every month for the water pumps, which operate on electricity produced by the local utility companies, this system will become more popular. The warranty on such systems is about 10 years but the system could run for a period of more than 15 years. Comparing the cost of electric bill which accumulates to $10,000 per year, this system with a value of $16,000 will be paid off in two years and after that time the electricity will be free. Use of such water pump will not only help the farmers for continued supply of water but also the unused electricity, which was to be supplied to the water pumps can be used some where else by the utility companies. If we install about 200,000 water pumps using solar power with 15 KW per pump, it will add 3,000 MW of electricity into the grid. In addition, the use of submerged pumps will save 50% of electricity, which is used for above the ground water pump. That will add another 1250 MW of electricity. Using all of the above numbers, we can add a total of 4,250 MW of electricity into the grid system. Such systems can also be used for the industry with an average supply of solar power from 100 to 500KW per system. Therefore, under the present circumstances the fastest and cheaper way to cover the power supply shortage in Pakistan is solar power.

This article has been written by Shuja H. Zaidi, President and CEO of Chem-Energy Corporation, Los Angeles, California USA. Mr. Zaidi has carried out lots of research work on supply of electricity in Pakistan and other Asian countries including USA and South America

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