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Strategy for utilising solar energy

Published Jul 31, 2012 12:10am


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WE have got an immense resource in the form of sunshine for generating solar energy in Pakistan but this resource is going to waste. Just think of the European countries where sunlight is hardly available, even then, those countries are putting it to gainful use.

The basic unit to generate this energy is a solar panel on which solar cells are pasted (say 50 to 100 of them). All these cells are interconnected. When sunlight falls on these cells, electrons get agitated and start moving in a certain direction. This movement of electrons is nothing but electric current.

As these solar panels would be required in huge numbers (millions of them) to produce solar energy in a big way, the quantity of solar cells would run into billions. Naturally, such a huge quantity of cells can’t be imported as their import wouldn’t be cost - effective. Hence, there’s no other option but to produce these cells locally.

The raw material for solar cells (quartz and silica) is available in Pakistan. Quartz is available in abundance in our northern areas. Local people have been seen using this raw material in raising the walls of their houses in place of bricks.

As far as silica is concerned, the Indus is full of this raw material. Bulb - manufacturing factories are already using it. We’ve to only import the machinery to convert this raw material to solar cells.

We’ll also require trained manpower to build these cells. The companies which provide machinery are supposed to train manpower as well, free of cost. The manpower which would be deployed for the manufacture of solar cells and solar panels would be available to us maximum for $3 ans hour as compared to $50 an hour in European countries and the US. This cheap manpower is our strength.

We have only one solar-panel (not solar-cells) manufacturing factory in Pakistan which is located at Hattar Industrial Area, about 100km from Islamabad. But, due to non-availability of facilities, this factory is importing solar cells from abroad.

Other main items required to produce a complete solar energy system are tampered glass sheets (on which solar cells are pasted), batteries, DC to AC converters, etc.

We have many glass-manufacturing factories and also innumerable battery-manufacturing factories in Pakistan. Tampered glass sheets and batteries could be produced by these factories with slight upgradation of the existing facilities.

As regards batteries, manufacture of sealed, maintenance-free batteries would be preferred. DC to AC inverters are already being manufactured in the country. There’s no dearth of expertise in this field.

In view of the above, the following recommendations are made:

A firm decision should be taken by the ministry of water and power to use solar energy to its maximum capacity in Pakistan.

A decision be taken to set up factories for manufacturing solar panels and solar cells in the country.

The machinery for manufacturing solar panels and cells be imported from world-renowned companies which have a name in the solar field.

Local manpower for these factories should be inducted purely on merit.  A capable and honest person should head the project.

AIR CDRE (Rtd) AZFAR A KHAN Rawalpindi


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Comments (5) Closed

anoni Jul 31, 2012 10:21am
Agree with all above but this "A capable and honest person should head the project." Where will you find this person? and do you think if he is honest and capable he will actually head the company? show me one proof in Pakistan
Aziz Jul 31, 2012 11:50am
This is a high-tech industry. Pakistan may have the raw material but it does not have the know-how or trained manpower or the political will or financial resources. The project should be set up by the private sector. A public sector enterprise would meet the same fate as PIA, Steel Mill, or Pakistan Railways, for example. Our selfish and corrupt politicians and the bureaucracy would abuse it to the hilt. The government should encourage the private sector to set up such enterprises with suitable incentives in the form of tax holiday, lowering of import duty on machines etc. China is the leading country in the world in this technology in terms of cost. They have forced the closure of many western companies
ShahidShaikh1 Jul 31, 2012 05:38pm
There used to be an organization call PIDC, Pakistan Industrial Development Corp created by Ayub Khan which mandate was to install new technology based organizations and then sell it to private sector. I do not think this organization exit any more. There are many Pakistani engineers in other countries but they are fear for their life due to the Law & Order situation in Pakistan otherwise we can do anything, if we can become atomic power then we can do anything only we need strong determination and incentive from the Govt to investor with long term tax breaks. Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Razzaq Jul 31, 2012 07:09pm
A very informative and usefull article. In UK where I am, the government have encouraged the solar enegy production publicly including a incentive of buying back the unused energy etc. This has resulted in many companies are now competing for business,giving a buyer several options to choose from. The most interesting part of this is that UK does not even get 65 days of sunshine out of 365 days.I still feel that Pakistan government either have no will to resolve the energy problem or it have a vested interest to protect. To find out the truth, it should allow the private sector to take steps as mentioned by Mr. Azfar Khan and the truth will come out in open.
Anwar Alam Jul 31, 2012 10:05pm
Yes,if the sky falls we shall catch the larks.Talking of solar panels we dont even produce a pr0per 500 watts generator.These are all cosmic thoughts.A 4000 watts solar energy system costs about 275000 rupees here in Cardiff UK , 58 percent Pakistanis can'tt afford a piece of bread living below poverty line and you asking them to buy the solar panel for 275000 must be joking.The Govenment should only make smaller dams for power generation or ask Raja Rental to buy solar panels.Anwar Alam Cardiff UK.