By Aurangzeb Soharwardi (The nation newspaper magazine Money Plus 5 oct – 2009
Pakistan Government is making all possible efforts to exploit maximum electricity generation sources to bridge the existing demand and supply gap. The electricity demand has risen to almost 17000 MW in the recent days owing to huge domestic, industrial , commercial and agricultural consumption. Particularly, due to abrupt change in life styles, the extensive use of home appliances has considerably enhanced the electricity demand. This situation has lead to the dire need of using alternate sources of energy, particularly the solar potential as an important alternate source of energy . The earth receives an incredible supply of solar energy – the sun provides sufficient energy in one minute to meet the world’s energy demand for a full year. In one day it provides more than our current population would consume in 27 years. Solar energy is produced by the sun light and not the heat and is based on the production and function of solar cells which are called photovoltaics (PV); the word Photo meaning light and voltaics electricity. The life of a solar panel is approximately 20 to 25 years . In Pakistan Only three energy sources, i.e. gas, oil and hydro, account for 93% of the total primary energy supplies of 51 MTOE (2003-04) in Pakistan. The share of coal in primary energy is very low – only 6%. The share of nuclear power in total energy supply is less than 1%, and is only 2.2%, in electricity generation, which is very low compared to 30% in Western Europe and 19% each in North America, and Eastern Europe. The power sector in Pakistan is a mix of hydel and thermal units dominated by two vertically integrated (in generation, transmission and distribution) public sector utilities, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) /PEPCO and Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC). In addition, there are two nuclear power plants KANUPP and CHANUPP, and a number of independent power producers (IPPs) and small power producers (SPPs) established since 1994. Now many rental power plants are on their way to meet Pakistan’s electricity requirements. In June 2004 the total installed capacity in the country was 19522 MW. In this scenario, use of solar energy for electricity has grown manifolds. Today’s solar energy technology has evolved and solar projects are appearing in both developed and developing countries. Applications of solar energy can be, Street , boulevards & highways lights -Military and civil security systems, Parks, parking lots, Airport lights, docks, transit lightings, Villages, Traffic signals, Sky scrappers and even residences, particularly buildings having residential flats..Solar street lights were initially used mainly in third world countries or remote and disaster hit areas, where electricity is not always available. Street lights using solar technology can be quickly and easily deployed. Well chosen, solar powered street lights will give years of reliable and maintenance-free operation. Solar lights are full of electronics. The solar panel converts the sun’s energy to DC electricity. Voltage is then regulated to a specific value by an electronic circuit to charge the battery. A solar controller protects the battery from too low and over charge. Now for the lighting. Contrary to LEDs, HID and CF lamps require a high voltage, particular current, and frequency to work. It is the ballast’s task to feed the lamp properly. We now need to control the lamp. To do so, a timer or photocell does the job of switching the light from dusk to dawn. On some advanced solar powered street lights models, intensity and color can even be adjusted. Electric street lights and traffic signals are big consumers of energy, costing millions to cities and municipalities around the world. Solar lighting systems can be implemented in any remote location where the cost of installing usual power supply is too expensive or problematic. Solar street lights are not the only street lighting equipments using solar energy technology. Traffic road management systems like solar traffic lights, solar road markers, solar road studs, solar emergency traffic lights and solar traffic signs begin to spread in some places. These professional solar lights have very low running costs and need virtually no maintenance for a long time. Airports as well are big consumers of solar runway lights .A growing number of solar street lighting projects are running in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Some European and US cities are currently running pilot projects. Well designed, solar street lights systems can provide an excellent alternative to traditional electric street lighting , in addition to significant energy and maintenance savings.. Pakistan has made considerable progress in solar systems development.. Realizing the importance of technology & the abundance of solar energy in Pakistan AEDB has taken the initiative of indigenous development and promotion of these types of power plants. Presently AEDB is installing three Solar Thermal Power Plants of 10-35 kWe for demonstration purpose using Parabolic Trough and Dish / Sterling technologies. These plants will be made operational at College of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering, Rawalpindi, Pakistan and then they will be installed at the suitable locations for rural electrification. After successful demonstration of these plants, private sector will be facilitated to install 50-100 MWe Solar Thermal Power Plants. Because of global warming areas of Thar, balochistan , Sindh and Punjab are getting hotter and more sun radiation will harm people and plants so in those areas solar panels can be very useful they’ll produce so much electricity and reduce the heat and radiation spreading on the landmass so in all over Pakistan, it can be beneficial. And because the southern provinces receive such heavy heat through the year, solar energy can be saved and exported to countries that recieve little of it in the winters like scandinavian countries or parts of Canada. These countries would desperately need energy in the winters to keep heating systems going . Along with this, Pakistan’s population will have to slowly switch to electric stoves from gas stoves, by changing their life styles. This dependency on gas has to stop at some point due to rapidly depleting gas reserves. Comparing with other technology mediums for gathering power, Solar Technology is truely an “Environment Friendly”, generated from the sun. Many technologically advanced systems like, Photovoltaic Module Component Photovoltaic Module Mounting System Photovoltaic systems, Building Integrated Photovoltaic System ,Solar Air Heating System ,Solar Electric Charge Controller ,Solar Cooking System ,Solar Electric Power System ,Solar Garden Light ,Solar Lighting System ,Solar Pool Heating System ,Solar Pool Heating System Component ,Solar Roofing System ,Solar Tracking System ,Solar Traffic Light ,Solar Water Heating System ,Solar Water Heating Component ,Solar Water Pumping System ,Solar Water Pumping System Component ,Sun Concentrating Photovoltaic System , can be used to meet energy needs. Presently in Pakistan, almost 600 houses are being electrified through solar energy and efforts to put home appliances are also underway, Rahim Yar Khan Airport has also been put on solar energy. 29 megawatt of electricity is being imported from Iran for Gwadar and feasibility report is being prepared for another 1,000 MW, stated by minister of Water & Power in a briefing. LED technology is increasingly being used in street light applications due to its longer life and energy-saving qualities. Compared to an HPS street light, an LED street light will last up to 50,000 hours and significantly reduce light pollution. An LED streetlight will also be better equipped to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures than an HPS Street Light, which makes it suited for outdoor use. Moreover, LED Street Light has a 100 to 1,000 times faster response, even no delay, which results in sharp, pure color.. LED Street Light selection includes Retrofit LED Street Light with E40 Base, Integrated LED Street Light with Bracket for new installation, and more. Since 2006, LED Street Light was installed in more than 130 countries, some of them as pilot projects, In a project, BBE LED has installed our 56W LED Street Light, LU2 there, this is one of the most efficiency models which can replace the 150w or even 250 HPS street light. This project was executed in the city of Peshawar.. All over Pakistan millions of street light connections debited to the respective city district governments, corporations, are managed by the street light divisions of PEPCO ( Pakistan Electric Power Company). In one circle ,average number of street light connections range from 25000 to 57000 , which comes to about 2 million connections, consuming enormous Mega Watts of electricity, all over Pakistan. This stupendous electricity consumption goes amounts to a non productive burden. If the street lights are converted to solar it can save a considerable amount of electricity. A huge number of traffic signals, managed by traffic police are also operative in the country for controlling and regulating the traffic , consuming substantial amount of electricity. The traffic flow is also jeopardized once the electricity goes off, resulting in switching off the signals. The traffic department has to pay huge amount of electricity bills every month to the respective electricity distribution companies. The advertising bill boards/hording boards along side roads and streets are also an other source of huge electricity consumption as they are lit up through luminous lights at night to attract the public. This non productive excessive use of energy has put additional burden on the electricity generation capacity and its distribution system. There is an urgent requirement of making and executing an energy policy to utilize solar energy technologies by converting particularly, the street lights, traffic signals, advertising boards, security lights, parks and specific buildings to electricity produced through solar power. Villages electrification through solar energy can also be a very use full project. Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission has also said that the existing energy crisis could easily be overcome by converting all the streetlights, park lights and traffic signals to the solar energy while chairing a meeting, organized by Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) .The Planning Commission is working on the projects, which will help electrify thousands of villages every year. The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) had also taken initiative to provide villagers comforts of lighting, cooking and water disinfection through solar energy technologies. This project demonstrates PV utility for small power requirements and remote area applications. During the previous financial years, the Board has electrified 11 villages in all the provinces in the country. Total of 601 villages were solar electrified in 2004-05 and about 400 villages in 2005-06. One such example is the village with the name of Narian Khorian, some 50 kilometers away from Islamabad, where 100 solar panels have been installed by a local firm, free of cost, to promote the use of solar energy among the masses. Through these panels, the residents of 100 households are enjoying light and fan facilities. Solar energy is the cleanest source in environmental terms. Particularly in Pakistan we have a power full and blazing sun ,full of heat and energy during most of the time in a year. 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 Center (SERC). For PEPCO,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 It may be clarified that it’s the sun’s light and not its heat that produces electricity. A very successful experiment was conducted in 2002, while A vast public park was established in GILGIT city and all its illumination was converted to solar energy. Similarly Roomi park in Rawalpindi is lit up by solar energy. All the parks in the country can be put on to solar energy, there by saving a huge amount of Mega Watts produced through other sources. An LVD based solar street light (40 Watts x 2) was erected on the 11th of March 2009 in DHA Karachi. All those present noticed the crisp white light and better illumination of hi-tech 80 Watts LVD lighting compared to the 250 Watts HPS lamps installed right across the road. In reality the newly introduced LVD lighting technology boasts of almost 40% energy conservation compared to HPS for similar or better illumination and a much better CRI. Many companies have been involved in Photovoltaic business in Pakistan. Complete solar systems in all parts of the country, mainly for house electrification, telecommunication (microwave links, optical fiber and digital exchanges), water pumping, navigation, highway communication, oil & gas fields and street lighting have been installed. The activities in solar thermal include modeling , designing and fabrication of low cost efficient solar thermal appliances like solar cookers, solar water heaters, solar room heaters, solar stills, solar dryers etc. solar water heaters of 20,000 liters capacity have been installed and are in use at the Attock Oil Refineries, Rawalpindi. we should establish not one but several factories for the manufacture of solar panels and cells in Pakistan and also encourage big construction companies to go solar while constructing sky scrappers , shopping malls and other mega construction projects. We have sufficient quantities of raw material at our disposal and skilled human resource. All the concerned organizations and departments must work in complete harmony to plan and execute solar energy projects in Pakistan for optimal benefits. It will also reduce a huge burden from Government’s shoulders to plan, establish and maintain a vast electricity infra structure, along with exploring electricity generation opportunities, which is already ensuring electricity supply to over 18 million consumers.