ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament is set to become the first legislature in the world to function on solar energy after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurates the 1MW project next week.
The premier will be the chief guest and formally inaugurate solar-powered system before the National Assembly session starts on February 23, a senior officer in the Parliament Secretariat told The Express Tribune.
A special ceremony has been planned with all federal ministers invited to the event. The Chinese ambassador is also expected at the ceremony to open the plant funded by China. Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Nawaz had launched the project on April 22, 2015.
The system is currently generating 80MWh electricity, of which 62MW is used by the Parliament House and the surplus 18MW supplied to the national grid. The project was completed in seven months at a cost of Rs280.61 million.
The solar-power plant will help the Parliament House save around Rs12 million in electricity bills every year, officials claim. The power demand at the legislative house rises to 2.3MW in summers due to the additional load of air conditioners and other cooling equipment.
The solar electrification of the parliament building will save approximately 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide per annum with a carbon credit of Rs3.4 million per annum, if the project gets registered under the Clean Development Mechanism.
According to the secretariat official, the Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) had worked out the electricity requirements at the parliament at 2MWh.
He said the Parliament House was the first building in the country to be issued a ‘net-metering’ licence by Nepra, the power regulatory authority. Net-metering helps in delivering and adding surplus production of energy to the national grid.
Inaugurated on May 28, 1986, the Parliament House was designed by US architect Edward Durel Stone. The five-storey building has a total floor area of around 598,000 sq feet. The solar panels have been installed on the roof of the building.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2016.