Selling sunlight

Published November 17, 2013

“This solar panel will guarantee six hours of power while that solar lamp can give light for 12,” said the bespectacled shopkeeper in Saddar’s electronic market as he pointed to his wares. The power crisis has been something of a boon for him, as more people are looking for alternate energy solutions for both domestic and industrial use. The installation of solar solutions may require a significant upfront investment but one can steadily recoup the initial expenses with substantial savings. Running energy-intensive devices such as air conditioners, refrigerators and water motors on solar power can reduce power costs by 70per cent — which means that a 5KW solar solution would have a normal payback period of about three years with 5pc yearly electricity price inflation. Poorly-made solar panels can cause charge losses and only the ones with Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certifications should be used for best results.

There are plenty of solar options now available in the electronic markets at Karachi’s Regal Chowk and Soldier Bazaar. One can find solar-powered lamps, radios, fans, and clocks. Batteries charged by solar panels are very popular.

These have sockets into which one can plug in devices to charge them or run them directly from the power source. The market is inundated by low-cost Chinese goods which can be found even on roadside kiosks and wholesalers at rates as low as Rs500 and going up to Rs5,000 for the most heavily-laden model.

The prices vary depending on the make and capacity with the lowest capacity UPS selling for around Rs6,500 and hiking to hundreds of thousands for a unit that can run heavy machinery such as air conditioners, water pumps, refrigerators, water geysers, irons, and other cooling and heating units.

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