CLARIFICATION ON MISUNDERSTOOD FACTS ABOUT QASPL
Misunderstanding No. 1:
QASPL produces only 18MW energy.
Owing to lack of technical know-how, it is often misquoted that QASPL produces 18MW energy, rather than the claimed 100MW. In reality, energy production is not measured in MW but in MWh and everyday QASPL produces 400-500MWh of energy, depending upon the weather. Moreover, people also tend to confuse DC based power plants’ production with AC power. Solar plants, worldwide, follow similar production patterns during sun hours and hence are sunlight and weather dependent. In fact, QASPL produces 100MW peak in DC capacity and up to 82MW in AC capacity. There is an excellent metering system at QASPL site and every reading is verified by NTDC/CPPA that can also be validated. The fact is that QASPL has produced electricity which is 5% in excess of the estimated target. These facts and figures are a part of the QASPL, NEPRA and NTDC record and are easily available to the public at large for scrutiny.
Misunderstanding No. 2:
QASPL is an expensive project, costing the Government of Punjab more than Rs. 14.8 billion.
QASPL is one of the most economical power projects established in the Province of Punjab. Reality is, that out of the total project cost only 25% is the equity injected by Government of the Punjab for promotion and progression of clean and sustainable energy and the rest is a debt, which is to be paid within 10 years of the initiation of the project. The project is not only making timely payments of the debt component but is also earning profits as per the tariff determined by NEPRA.In 2016, QASPL earned a gross profit of Rs. 1.015 Billion out of which Rs. 900 million (90 crore) was presented to Chief Minister Punjab, for investment in healthcare initiatives of the province.
Moreover, the project is saving billions of dollars in fuel import, as renewable energy plants do not require any fuel to produce electricity. One third of Pakistan’s total import is comprised of Crude Oil (approx. $ 6.69 billion annually) and according to statistics approximately 70% of our installed power generation capacity is based on fossil fuel that is being imported for power generation. Our Natural Gas reserves are depleting at an increasingly high rate, while our power demand is increasing day by day. Solar power uses sun as fuel resulting in fossil fuel displacement, higher GDP, saving billions of dollars to our national exchequer and hence significantly contributing to the circular debt.
Misunderstanding No. 3:
The efficiency of QASPL is not up to the mark.
This is another flagrant misconception which has no factual backing. In fact, QASPL provides MEPCO an average of 500,000 units (kWh) of energy on daily basis, which is sufficient to power 60,000 – 100,000 small to medium sized homes. QASPL outperformed and surpassed NEPRA’s initial energy target by 4.43% in 2016-17. Furthermore, QASPL contributed to the green economy by reducing 221,238.42 tonnes of CO2 and GHG emissions.
Misunderstanding No. 4:
The choice of land for establishing the solar park, is not right as Bahawalpur is prone to sandstorms.
It is a global practice to install solar power plants on non-agricultural/non-productive land for best utilization of the barren land to harvest solar energy. Bahawalpur Solar Park site was chosen because of its excellent irradiance level. Every solar panel, regardless of its location in the world, collects dust and requires cleaning. All these factors were taken into consideration at design stage and energy production was estimated through computer model by international experts and consultants. QASPL plant produces more energy than similar plants in the world, where the intensity of storm is severe. It is a matter of pride for Pakistan that despite all technological challenges, we are producing more energy than that initially targeted.
Misunderstanding No. 5:
Punjab Government is selling/privatizing a failed project.
Through QASPL, GOP not only established the 100 MW plant, but paved the way for all the future Solar PV projects in both private and public sectors. Owing to the success story of QASPL, AEDB received over 1200 MW projects LOIs. Other Provincial governments also adopted the model setup by QASPL, Baluchistan and FATA being the forerunners in this regard. Even research facilities such as NESCOM looked up to QASPL for guidance in developing Solar at their own facilities. All utility scale solar power plants, at earlier stage, require government support to kick-start the industry until it reaches a maturity stage or critical mass. Punjab Government, from the outset, intended to attract private investment in the newly emerging and self-reliant solar technology and established QASPL as a utility scale pilot project. Upon its achievement, GOP decided to privatize the same so as to put forth an example before the prospective private investors that solar is up and running, completely functional and an entirely profitable investment in Pakistan.
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