Alternative energy: Consumers increasingly opt for solar power in Pakistan
By Imran Rana
The demand for solar panels has increased considerably, thanks to extensive power and gas outages and high tariffs that have not only hurt industrial activities but have also disturbed the monthly household budgets.
Importers of solar energy panels told The Express Tribune that unbearable energy outages, high tariffs and heavy expenses on generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) had left consumers with no option but to turn to alternative energy, particularly solar panels. They said Chinese solar panels were much cheaper compared to panels imported from Germany which were very expensive and did not come within the range of consumers. In a bid to promote alternative energy, the government has scrapped duty on import of solar energy systems.
According to Nurani Solar Private Limited chairman Tariq Nurani, solar products being imported into the country include solar street lights, solar garden lights, solar generators, solar heaters, solar water heaters and solar water collectors for industry.
“Sales of solar energy panels have increased about 40 per cent compared to winter of last year. Sunshine in Pakistan remains for approximately 10 hours a day, which is enough to produce 1,000 watts per square metre. Producing electricity from the sun is very easy,” said Nurani, who deals in solar products.
However, he pointed to corruption as a major hurdle, saying dry port authorities did not clear consignments until they were paid. “If the government controls this mafia, then the cost of solar panels will come down by up to 30 per cent.” Solar-powered tube wells, water pumps and vacuum tube collectors of Germany can be installed with an investment of Rs400,000 to Rs500,000, said Dr Anjum Muneer, Assistant Professor at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, which is running a programme in assistance with Germany to promote solar energy.