Samir Ahmad
Manager- New Business Ventures

Pakistan’s total generation capacity in 2015 was between 23000 MW to 24000 MW, out of which 66 % was thermal based, 30% was hydroelectric based, 3% was nuclear based and nearly 1% was both wind and solar energy. On an average 3000 to 5000 MW of energy shortfall was experienced by Pakistan in 2015. According to 2014 statistics, a considerable proportion of this power generation was used in powering the commercial and industrial sector of Pakistan, which is our economy lifeline. As a nation, the extent to which our economy depends on fossil fuel based thermal generation marginalizes our energy security at a global level.

Pakistan is one of the most blessed countries when it comes to solar energy availability throughout the year. The solar energy potential ranges from 1500 to 2200 Kwh/m2/ year and varies based on geography, making it the 6th luckiest country in terms of solar potential. Generally speaking the solar energy availability increases from north to south, with the south western part exceeding well beyond the 2200 Kwh/m2/year mark. Germany on the other hand has a solar potential ranging from 1100 to 1300 Kwh/m2/day however already has 39 GWp of solar PV installed mainly due to attractive feed in tariffs.
Pakistan’s commercial & industrial sector (C&I) primarily depends on grid power with diesel generators available for standby power to maintain uninterrupted operations. The price of energy (Kwh) is one of the highest in the region coupled with low reliability makes energy cost for businesses in Pakistan one of the highest operational cost. With highly competitive local and global markets it is becoming more and more difficult for businesses to survive. Finding a solution to this is now imperative at many levels.

One promising way to address this challenge is to increase the adoption of cheap and sustainable forms of distributed generation (DG). Grid connected or hybrid type solar PV generators on rooftops or ground space is one of the best candidate to address this challenge in the C&I sector. The cost of solar PV per KW installed has come down by 80% since 2008. The cost of energy per unit (Kwh) is already much cheaper than current grid prices and makes a very attractive commercial case, however variables do vary from industry to industry. It is important to carry out a detailed technical and commercial feasibility by field experts before implementing solar PV power at your facility. By going solar PV as a captive generator at your facility you are not only locking your energy rates for the long term but also cushioning your business from highly volatile global oil and gas prices. This increases the businesses energy security and gives the business the much needed foresight to its operational cost.

Apart from the commercials there are a number of other advantages that solar PV bring in to the equation. Like reduced dependence on the national grid resulting in increase in national generation capacity, increased reliability of the distribution system on which you are connected, reduced industry internal line losses, internal transformer upgrades can be deferred, drop in cooling requirements in summer as roof is shaded with solar PV modules, significant boost in health, safety and environment of any industry. Most of these advantages also add to the commercial value of going solar while staying connected to the grid.
All of these reasons make solar PV one of the most preferred sources of generation globally. The C&I sector in Pakistan should collectively & aggressively look into promoting & adopting solar PV generation at their facilities by talking to field experts.