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Why solar energy is important for Pakistan

We as a nation have missed 50’s and 60’s industrial revolution and we’ve missed 80’s and 90’s IT
revolution. Now the two new revolutions are evolving or knocking at our doorstep,

One is the energy revolution which is emerging rapidly as renewable energy or green energy. Taping
natural resources like solar and wind for power generation.

-The second major revolution is Artificial intelligence. The next evolving revolution of IT is that the artificial
intelligence is emerging rapidly. It has benefits off-course like new technologies and new venues etc but if
we wouldn’t talk about it or not follow this, then there are disadvantages too. Such as jobs, many job
opportunities may vanish with this.

-we need to be proactive in both.

-Today we will talk about that why we shouldn’t do any new investment on energy sector other than solar
energy:

The brief pricing history of solar energy

The international market of solar energy in 2013 was around 12 -13 cent per kWh delivered unit on IPP
mode which means including the financial cost, which has now reached between 2.42 to 3.5 cents (2.42
signed in 2016 for UAE and 3.5 cents auctioned in India recently).

So we can now conclusively state that solar has become the cheapest norm of energy. Many
technological advancements underway, would bring the current prices down to many folds in near future.

Solar energy systems:

Currently The solar energy mainly working with two major technological systems.

Photovoltaic panels (PV), the other is CSPs (concentrated solar powers).

Photovoltaic panels are being used for domestic and small to medium commercial usage probably known
to all of us.

CSPs on the other hand are emerging as the large scale power plants. CSPs is very large parabolic dish
comprising of several thousand mirrors called heliostats, which has a tower in the center. Concentrated
heat beams reflected towards top of the tower containing molten salt. The salt is heated to 400-500
degrees Celsius. Thermal condensation/storage of molten salt is very high. If it is stored in proper
insulation, this will reduce only 1 degree/day. Thermal storage is considered 10% of the battery storage
cost, which means the misconception that the “solar power is available only when the sunshine is
available “is being overcome. The molten salt heat can later be converted into superheated steam to
power conventional steam turbines and generate electricity in bad weather or at night. This is as good
as any fossil fuel power plant. In fact the current fossil fuel power plant (gas, coal or oil run) can also be
converted into solar power, provided the land for solar farm is available nearby.

Word wide capacity addition of solar energy.

Currently 73 GW of solar capacity is being added this year (2018) bringing total world solar capacity to
369 GW.

India is working on 25 GW this year alone and would be producing 100 GW by the year 2022

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China added 53 GW this year and targeting the additional 110 GW by 2022.

Conclusion to Policy making recommendations.

Short term solutions

Saudi Arab and many other countries are working on the short term solution of photovoltaic panels being
used on domestic level, the government should subsidies the PV products by providing soft loans,
abolishing any applicable taxes or removing important duties on the, PV panels, converters and most
importantly the net metering should be expedited to its full extent, by doing this the immediate pressure
on the grid can be decreased and load shedding may be eliminated by the next summer . providing net
meters to every household would provide cheaper battery less solution, while the day time pressures on
the grid would be mitigated by the domestic users, using solar electricity produced by their own PV panels
and the grid power can be conveniently diverted to industrial and commercial sectors while during the
night, households users will take power from the grid assuming that the grid has less pressure at night
from industrial and commercial sectors. Electricity supplied by photovoltaic panels without the battery
storage is considerably cheap.

Long term solutions:

Nowadays most of the energy development investment is being spent towards the renewable energy and
the fossil fuel energy very rapidly is becoming financially noncompetitive to renewable energy mainly
solar and wind power.

The country like Pakistan where the sunshine is abundantly available should ban any new investments
other than solar and wind.

Now let’s come to the very hot topic of these days about the construction of new dams Namely Diamir
Bhasha and Mehmend Dam.

Definitely we need dams as water reservoir.

But if we calculate the cost, per unit cost on electricity and the share on power plant is way more
expensive. It’s more expensive than the solar.

As we are embarking on the construction of Bhasha dam we should go for as the reservoir only and not
for its power plant.

Cost of the Dam without power plant would be only 1/3rd. (About 400 billion Rupees) of the total project,
including the cost of power transmission, with this price tag the project becomes more affordable and
specially utilizing more of the local funds, while for power plant, more of the funds goes towards the
international purchasing .

By more emphasizing on a different strategy we can go for cheaper solar power.

We should go on different venues for cheaper solar power. That can be carefully chosen between,
whether it will be on public private partnership or If government raise money through lending institutions,
or on IPP or BOT mode.

Prediction is that if the Bhasha dam starting now, will be completed in next 5 years, the cost of solar
energy will be around 1 to 1.5 cent by then, even if we considered it too conservatively .

Work that is being done worldwide on new solar technologies, the prices are bound to come down
drastically.

Eventually we need to be careful in moving towards BOT or on IPP mode. Because if we are committed

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with the deals today, we will be contractually bound to the tariff based on current prices for next 20-25
years.

The prices will go down at least 50% in the next 3-4 years. So whether we come up with public private
partnership or whether the government proceeds by taking loan from landing institutes but we should be
very careful making IPP or BOT mode for the new projects.

Unlike hydroelectric projects the solar and wind projects are of shorter duration, the solar projects are
generally commissioned within a year or two, unlike 5 to 8 years for Hydro Projects including geological
studies, designing and construction period.

At This point of time, we only have Kaala Bagh and Bhasha dam as design ready reservoir projects on
Indus River, all of other hydro projects are run of the river, so with the new pricing of the energy sector,
probably hydroelectricity is no more viable.

Yes, this is a very wild statement yet somebody in the government, the concerned departments, need
to work on this either to verify or deny this wild claim.

Pakistan Should also vigorously work on the relevant industrial developments to keep the future market in
our hands, even if we can’t go for export as yet, lots of precious revenue can be saved in future, by
avoiding imports of Solar energy components, as most of the parts are bulky and not considered hi tech
products like pipes, steel brackets, storage tanks etc.

Conclusion is that the renewable energy is very much a reality and really a very good opportunity for the
country like Pakistan, let’s not miss this great opportunity presented by the development of new
technologies.

Artificial intelligence Revolution:

This May sound out of context of the above discussion, but yet very important “worldly” change is
storming the world, “the revolution of Artificial intelligence” which is knocking at our doorstep for
“Good and Bad”

Even if we cannot do much on this stage, at least one thing should be done is that the academia have to
start programmes on the level of HEC, in universities, colleges or even start diplomas courses.

We should work very vigorously so that in coming years we wouldn’t have to face lack of professionals in
this field and not lose the advantages of this emerging revolution.

Second (the bad) aspect is fear of the jobs elimination, especially with our literacy rate, how would this be
mitigated, we should work on that also. We need to think at least ten years ahead.

I beg our policy makers, let’s not miss this train like we missed IT.

We have to take initiative for the betterment of our Industries, because it’s bound to come, it’s there. It will
affect our industries, marketing, trade and it will abolish plenty of jobs of our shopkeepers, our handymen
and subsequently our competitiveness.

Our think tanks need to work on how we will have benefit from the positive aspects and how we should
mitigate from the negative ones.

Thank You

Sajjad Anwar