KARACHI: For the first time ever the City District Government has planned to operate traffic signals using solar energy instead of electricity.
This week one traffic signal was connected and the project for plugging in the rest will be completed in six months. Traffic officer Javed Ali Khan told The Express Tribune that the CDGK evaluated alternative methods to help with the power crisis. In the first phase, bulbs will be changed at a cost of Rs20 million and in the second phase, solar energy connections will be set up at a cost of Rs40 million.
With the help of some sponsors, bulbs at 10 traffic signals have been replaced with Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and the results have been good. The government runs 120 traffic signals and the ones with solar power have been installed at Disco Bakery, Jauhar roundabout, Teen Hatti and Shama Cinema. One regular 2,000-watt bulb is needed each month but LEDs need to be only 200 watts. They reduce the cost of deploying the solar energy system by 80 per cent.
Solar panels will be installed 24 feet high at every traffic signal and will have the capacity to operate them 24 hours a day. The current KESC system will be kept as standby nonetheless. These connections cost Rs600,000 to Rs700,000 monthly and in case of outages all the signals go off.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 19th, 2010.