Pakistan outlines plans for country’s first solar park

Government wants to construct 500MW of solar power plants in future to secure electricity supplies

Lahore will be the setting of the country’s first solar park. (Source: flickr)

By Nilima Choudhury

The Pakistani government will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an undisclosed Chinese company this week to establish Pakistan’s first solar park.

The installation will be built near Lahore, close to the Indian border, on 5,000 acres of land with equipment from local company Tesla PV, who inaugurated the country’s first solar manufacturing facility in Islamabad recently.

“The research we have done is that solar is the only way forward for Pakistan because of [increasing] fuel prices [and] pollution,” Tesla PV CEO Aamir Hussain told RTCC.

Hussain said renewable energy plays a vital role in the Pakistani energy mix especially as the country benefits from high irradiance levels and many rivers for hydro power dismissing wind power.

“Wind is an option but we have limited corridors for that.”

The government of Pakistan has set a target of 5% of total power generation from renewables by 2030.

In the near term, the government is also seeking to develop at least 500MW of solar power plants.

At the inauguration of Tesla’s plant, Punjab minister for Mineral Development and Energy Sher Ali said: “All developed nations have advanced in getting electricity from sun and they were making progress through this natural source of energy.”

Hussain directed the government to venture down the micro-grid route rather than large installations connected to the country’s electricity grid.

“The government [should] focus on micro grids that is attracting a build-up of investors and this energy crisis can be taken care of much faster than putting up large 50-100MW plants which can take years to finish.

“But if you build a 100-200kW micro-grid then local investors can get into that and the energy crisis can be dealt with very very fast.”

Hussain also added: “Local manufacturing of these panels will not only make them affordable but will also help solar users to buy A grade quality panels. It will also help reduce the foreign exchange being spent in import of these panels from other countries,” he added.

Steven Han, analyst at market research company Solarbuzz pointed out that, “Major challenges in the South Asia region remain, including financing, infrastructure and political instability. However, the potential for PV is significant, and growth prospects in the long-term are still good.”.

Read more on: Energy | | | | |