Promoting solar power and scaling up renewable energy resources at technical institutions will provide an effective, supportive and enabling environment leading to self-reliance of vocational students.
The importance of alternative energy resources, such as solar power is established not only in Pakistan but also at the global level in lieu of green technology that is eco-friendly and pollution-free.
To provide renewable energy to the students, USAID’s Punjab Youth Workforce Development (PYWD) has installed 42KW solar power system at Vocational Training Institute (VTI), Khanewal Road, Multan. The project was inaugurated by the US Consul General Colleen Crenwelge. VTI is the first-ever vocational and technical institute of South Punjab that has been completely shifted to solar power.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony US Consul General Colleen Crenwelge said USAID’s PYWD Project was playing a pivotal role in the development of non-conventional solutions to meet the country’s energy requirements.
“This solar power system is efficient to power the entire institute through green energy produced from the state-of-the-art photovoltaic technology and will yield significant benefits including saving 32kw energy for minimum eight hours a day,” he added. “The vast potential of solar energy should be explored further to provide an alternative to 122 million people in Punjab without a reliable source of energy,” he added.
Vocational Training Institute Principal Tanveer Ahmad told The Express Tribune that the project funded by USAID would benefit over 10,000 vocational and technical students over the period of 25 years. He said 10 different technical courses were being taught in the college. He also highlighted that in the annual academic session, 90% content was related with the practical and only 10% was a theory as the aim of the courses was to provide immediate employment opportunities to the students.
Ahmad further said due to the power outages, students were unable to do their practical assignments as the uninterrupted heavy supply of electricity required in welding and other projects.
“Another issue,” he said, “was of the lack of finances as the annual electricity bill of college exceeds Rs1 million and in case of delays in payments, MEPCO disconnects the electricity supply which causes the loss of students. “With the installation of solar power, the institute will be able to sell energy to MEPCO through net metering. With this, we will be able to generate more finances and the amount that was earlier utilised for the payment of electricity bills would be diverted towards other productive projects.
Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) Managing Director Amjad Ali said solar power system would help provide uninterrupted energy supply, thus reducing energy demand-supply gap, and enabling the students to continue their technical training without any hindrance and ultimately become a part of the national and global workforce.
“In addition to this, this solar power system will also reduce the operational and administrative expenses, which can be further invested in technical and vocational education of the youth,” he added.
Chief of Party USAID-PYWD Project Qaisar Nadeem said an important feature of this solar system was its capacity to not only power itself but also to feed excess electricity into the national electricity grid. This will open the avenue for placing Pakistan in the list of countries having implemented the possibility of feeding cleaner electricity into the grid through net metering. “This solar power system will serve as a model for investors, public and private sector to encourage going green by solarising institutes to drastically reduce the carbon footprints, thus contributing to a ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’,” he added.
Students thanked the USAID for converting the institute to solar energy. Zeeshan, a student of Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning Repair (HVACR), said MEPCO used to cut power supply sometimes on the pretext of repair and maintenance which caused difficulties to students. Girl students from the courses of fashion designing and beautician said they were unable to get benefit from various equipment that runs on electricity. Asma Murtaza, a beautician, said the technique of colour scheme was the most important part of girls’ courses and in absence of electricity the process could not be completed. Shehzad, who had just completed his six-month course of auto electrician, said with the help of solar energy students would generate energy even for the government.