Turning to alternate energy must to beat load shedding

Karachi: Karachi known as the city of lights have been plagued with the load shedding problem for last two decades; however, the problem has worsened after the privatization of Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) in November 2005. Presently, the city faces up to 10 hours load shedding and even more every day and there seem no end to this menace. The privatization of power supply public utility has proved a total failure and remedial steps are needed on urgent basis. Considering the ever increasing rates of fossil energy sources of oil and gas the most feasible alternate is to switch to alternative energy generation through methods like solar, wind power generation.

Ending the electricity load shedding is essential for economic survival of not only Karachi, but whole Pakistan and the national economy and revenue generation mostly depends on Karachi economy. Besides utilizing coal reserves and building new dams and atomic power houses, there is a dire need to utilize the solar, the cheapest sources of all alternative energies.

In a broadest sense, solar energy supports all life on earth and is basis of almost every form of energy which we use. Amount of solar energy that falls on earth is enormous. It will be surprising to note that all energy stored in earth’s reserves of coal, oil and natural gas is just equivalent to energy from only 20 days of sunshine. Yet solar energy accounts for only 1 per cent of global energy sources.

Proponents of solar energy are now convinced that the development and adaptation of solar energy technology in Pakistan can bring a revolution in the life style and living standards of low income people living in the remote areas. However, the role of solar energy has been negligible in the total energy picture of the country. Solar energy technology has so far been used in our country only for demonstration purposes. The experiments in the past in this area were not so successful due to variety of reasons including lack of understanding and handling of this technology.

The solar energy technologies have not been exploited on a large scale for a number of reasons such as, high cost, lack of motivation and inadequate demonstration of effective use of the technology. Recently there is a realization among government circles, about the necessity of using solar energy for the purpose of saving the environment and socio-economic uplift of the peoples living in the remote areas.

Pakistan is ideally located in the sunbelt to take advantage of solar energy technologies. This energy source is widely distributed and abundantly available in the country including Karachi.

Solar radiation studies have been carried out to work out the feasibility of possible and efficient utilization of Solar Energy at Karachi. From the analysis of the monthly average daily and hourly global solar radiation data, the prospects of solar energy utilization are very bright. Karachi receives about 19.50 MJm-2d-l of solar isolation with an annual total of 7000 MJm-2. The influx of global solar radiation is very consistent and has a variation of only 22.8% in the last 27 years. Except for the monsoon months, solar radiation incidence is very encouraging, from the application point of view. Correlation equation of the first and second order polynomials have been developed for Karachi, to estimate the monthly average daily diffuse solar radiation, employing relative sunshine hours and clearness index. The diffuse radiation shows a peak value during monsoon months, while average diffuse to global ratio is 0.32 and diffuse to extraterrestrial ratio is 0.19, throughout the year.

There is dire need that the solar energy generation units should be installed on massive scale in Karachi to generate enough energy to beat crippling load shedding in the city. The government offices, hospitals, factories, civic agencies and housing units should install solar panels to generate their own electricity or at least considerable portion of it. Solar panels should be installed along roads, beach and in big grounds and open spaces. The government should provide easy loans for purchasing solar panels and their support mechanisms. There is a dire need of inviting investment in the solar energy sector, which could be very profitable sector if the government provides initial support.

Karachiites are spending huge amounts on gas and oil generators and if this money is used to install solar panels on rooftops of houses and offices the problem of load shedding could be easily overcome.

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