MINISTER for Local Government and Community Development of Punjab, Mian Mahmood-ur-Rasheed, has announced the government’s plan to convert 60 per cent of power consumption to solar energy by 2030.
Speaking at a seminar, he said that the Punjab government had already initiated a robust plan with funds amounting to billions of rupees to convert universities, schools in remote districts of Punjab, all educational institutions and industrial units to renewable/solar energy in the province.
Pakistan has some of the highest values of insulation in the world, with eight to nine hours of sun-shine a day, an ideal climatic condition for solar power generation but regrettably we have been very slow in adopting solar technology that could offer solutions to many energy woes of the country.
According to the World Bank, despite a number of successful projects, the installed capacity of solar and wind energy in Pakistan, at just over 1,500 Megawatts, is just 4 percent of total capacity, equal to around 2 percent of total generation.
The benefit of solar power can be gauged by the example of a mosque that the provincial minister quoted in his speech, the monthly electricity bill of which dropped from Rs 500,000 to zero besides sale of electricity to the distribution company concerned through net-metering (after solarisation).
A significant part of the budget of educational institutions, hospitals and offices is consumed by electricity bills and they would be able to use these funds for other productive purposes once the provincial government implements the plan to convert their power supply to solar system.
There can be huge savings if similar projects for defence forces and police are also implemented by the Federal and Provincial Governments. What we need is proper and timely investment on research and development on this technology as it has the potential to mitigate our economic challenges.