Alternative energy: Consumers increasingly opt for solar power

Published: January 5, 2012
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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. PHOTO: FILE

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. PHOTO: FILE

FAISALABAD: 

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.

He said the government should subsidise solar energy products for their promotion, adding the technology might be costly and unaffordable for the consumers, but it would give life-time savings and benefits to them.

Khawaja Cotton Industries Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Amjad Khawaja said he invested Rs5 million to install solar water boilers, but after this the gas bill dropped 40 per cent. He also installed solar energy panels at his home at a cost of Rs90,000 and his electricity bill fell almost 60 per cent.

Khawaja said the rising cost of electricity and energy shortages had ruined the textile sector but solar water boilers almost resolved the problem.

Nadeem Ali Rizvi, a solar energy consumer, said two types of solar panels were being sold in the market, one was large solar panel and the other was a smaller one to power lights and fans. He spent Rs22,000 on home lights, garden lights and street lights, which needed no wiring.

“My electricity bill has dropped 60%. Though the panel was costly, but my monthly savings will help me easily recover the money,” said Rizvi.

Bilal Ahmad, another solar energy consumer said that solar panels, especially small panels, were very economical. “They are cheaper than spending on a UPS or a generator.”

UPS increased the electricity bill by up to 40 per cent per month by charging batteries, he said, adding rising prices of fuel and electricity and load-shedding forced him to install solar panels.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Skin Taj
    Jan 5, 2012 - 3:36AM

    BRILLIANT IDEA !!!!!!!!!

    Recommend

  • khan
    Jan 5, 2012 - 8:03AM

    too little too less… other countries are way ahead of us in Solar. Specially in Europe. Even India is progressing fast to generate 20,000 MW solar energy by 2020. Billions of dollar are invested by Indian Gov and foreign companies to set up solar factories and commercial projects in India. We are as usual way behind others…

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  • Fardad
    Jan 5, 2012 - 8:16AM

    If only our priorities were right, we would have been a different country. If the Govt of Shaukat Aziz had subsidised solar energy instead of subsidising cars and CNG stations, we would not be suffering the crisis as we see now.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 5, 2012 - 10:24AM

    My relatives are already using solar panels. Expensive at start but its usefulness grows exponentially every day after that.

    Recommend

  • atif
    Jan 5, 2012 - 11:20AM

    Where is our Govt./Political Leaders… Plz Plz. read this article

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  • Adi
    Jan 5, 2012 - 12:39PM

    @Fardad but there was no electricity shortage during the time of Shaukat Aziz, why would he even need to subsidize this sector?? kid we dont have electricity capacity issues here, only capacity utilization is the problem!

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  • Waqas
    Jan 5, 2012 - 1:18PM

    @atif:
    most of them don’t know english unfortnately,

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 5, 2012 - 1:52PM

    donot rely on govt…do by your self what ever you can do

    Recommend

  • Lobster
    Jan 5, 2012 - 2:47PM

    @khan:
    Which Europe you are talking about? Yes, the technology is advanced here but percentage of consumers is still too low.

    Recommend

  • Lobster
    Jan 5, 2012 - 2:49PM

    ET should also give summary of types and cost of solar panels and where one can buy them. It would be highly useful to potential consumers.

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  • Saeed
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:21PM

    A well written article on the burgeoning solar energy growth.However, such article should be followed up with clear,precise recommendations for the Government as well as for the end-users.In particular with reference to reliable and inexpensive sources of technology purchase and transfer.

    Recommend

  • Dadyal
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:41PM

    PIA selling solar powered mobile charger. Education and manufacturing is needed at large scale, like our JF17. Plenty of sun even in winter.

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  • Khan Bhai
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:45PM

    I am all for curbing corruption mafia but subsidies on solar panel? Hell NO! If anything the government should invest in producing these panels locally rather than importing them and lining the pockets of importers. Besides when has subsidies ever helped?

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  • Ali
    Jan 5, 2012 - 6:26PM

    There should be a factory in Pakistan producing them to lower the prices.

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  • Abdul-Razak Edhy
    Jan 5, 2012 - 7:22PM

    The system still needs batteries in many cases. The local batteries don’t last even one year. Its’ cost has to be taken in account while calculating pay back period.

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  • Dadyal
    Jan 5, 2012 - 8:45PM

    Reduce population growth and reduce pollution of the environment. Educate the public that bribing people is a federal offence and Islamic too. Well, education and industry are way to wealth and higher quality of life. I think that only educated people to at least Phd should only be allowed to run the country. Far too much dimness for an Islamic nation.

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  • hash
    Jan 28, 2012 - 12:43PM

    are there any monthly gov fees involved… do you have to pay the government for having a solar system in your house.

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