Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power - Road Map for the Future of Clean Power Generation in Pakistan
Muhammad Amjad | Ex-Chief Executive Officer
With over 250GWh of energy production after its successful operation over a period of 16 months, Quaid e Azam Solar Power (Pvt.) Ltd. has initiated new era of power production in Pakistan. It was like removing more than 25,000 cars off the road per year, which are polluting our cities, and providing electricity to over 100,000 homes. We have ventured to develop the first 100 MW Solar PV plant in Bahawalpur and by doing so, have engraved the biggest milestone for future growth in solar power sector in Pakistan. From a project in its budding phase to an un-denying reality, Quaid-e-Azam Solar has setup new standards for Pakistan Solar power projects. Building the first project of its kind in Pakistan does not necessarily mean just providing actual data and material to NEPRA resulting in determination of the first solar Tariff, introduction of amendment in new Grid Code and proposing the first EPA (Energy Purchase Agreement), but it also means instilling the understanding of the Solar PV technology among the general public.
Like many new technologies solar energy is passing through, three critical phases – Initial development and adoption, disappointment due to lack of knowledge of the technology and finally the maturity stage along with market acceptance. Though, there are many hurdles to tackle but we have reasons to hope for a bright future ahead. Solar generation is part of balanced supply mix and promises energy security where declining fossil fuel cannot. It is paving the way how the future power systems should be built. The conventional mindset in planning is having hard times to understand that intermittent sources will change the future of power generation. As future electricity demands, we will require a faster-acting, flexible and sophisticated grid that maintains high reliability and efficiency while integrating new distributed generation resources that are economical.
On ground Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power has not only established its own 100 MW plant but has also paved the way for all the future Solar PV projects in both private and public sectors. Today AEDB has over 1200 MW projects LOIs and Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park alone has a capacity of 1000 MW in which 400 MW has already been installed and commissioned. Other Provincial government bodies have been adopting the model setup by Quaid-e-Azam Solar. Baluchistan and FATA are the forerunners who have contacted us for guidance. Even research facilities such as NESCOM have looked up to us for guidance in developing Solar at their own facilities.
In order to understand the purpose of Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power and Punjab Government for introducing solar technology and establishing a 100 MW Solar PV plant, we have to look towards the global change in utility and energy generation. Today Pakistan cannot live in a world of isolation as in this time of globalization there are no economic, social and technological islands. In the present world, everything is connected. The reality and fact of the world is that 1% of the daily solar energy is equivalent to all the existing electrical load on earth and harnessing this free clean energy is the goal of every developed country. Germany has installed 40 GW of solar PV and is still installing more even though it’s in a region that has one of the lowest solar potential on earth.
Ten years ago installing solar was like flipping a coin, in which one side had high economic impact and the other side had clean energy. However, the tables have turned today as Solar PV not only provides clean energy but is economically beneficial to the end user.
According to the McKinsey Quarterly 2008 report the predicted growth in solar market is exponential from year 2005 to year 2020
it can be observed that the global production per GW is even higher than 90GW which was predicted for 2015 (figure 1.2) and stands around 102 GW for 2012. The growth of solar power generation exceeds the predicted growth and shows the promising prospective of solar power generation mainly because mass production has lowered its price and now it is affordable. However, one of the main reasons for exponential growth of particularly Solar PV plants is its easy and quick to construct nature. Quaid-e-Azam Solar power plant alone was constructed within 9 months, which for a plant of its scale is considerably fast. On the other hand, a small hydro or thermal plant can take 1.5 to 2 years to design and build.
Reviewing the global perspective, Investment in renewable energy has increased from $273 billion to $285.9 billion from 2014 to 2015. Solar power installed capacity has increased from 177 GW to 227 GW from 2014 to 2015 alone which shows that global growth trends of renewable energy are increasingly high. Accordingly, Coal continues to decline for electricity generation worldwide. Coal-fired generation, which accounted for 40% of total world electricity generation in 2012, declining to 29% of the total in 2040 in the Reference case. Renewables account for a rising share of the world’s total electricity supply, and they are the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the IEO 2016 Reference case. Total generation from renewable resources increases by 2.9%/year, as the renewable share of world electricity generation grows from 22% in 2012 to 29%. Generation from non-hydropower renewables is the predominant source of the increase, rising by an average of 5.7%/year and outpacing increases in natural gas (2.7%/year), nuclear (2.4%/year), and coal (0.8%/year), even without taking into account the growth in renewable generation anticipated under the Clean Power Plan in the United States. All the above is showing that a step towards renewable energy particularly solar power is the most logical thing to do for Pakistan.
Growth in every sector is based on its positive impact on the economy of the country. One third of Pakistan’s total import is comprised of Crude Oil (approx. $ 6.69 billion annually), 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 increasing rate, while our power demand is increasing day by day. Solar power uses sun as fuel and is independent from fossil fuel consumption that is why having solar power would mean lower fossil fuel imports and higher GDP. Today the crude oil prices of the world have fallen below 50% of what it once stood in 2008. However, the recent trends show a gradual increase in crude oil prices, OPEC is convening new meetings to increase the oil pries even further. In such a scenario it is but inevitable that the price of crude oil will increase and our reliability on it will cost the country billions of dollars in revenue loss.
The most detrimental effect that any developing economy can face is lack of sufficient power. The energy crisis which Pakistan faced escalated during 2005 – 2006 due to the insufficient installed capacity, the power shortfall was 2,645 MW in 2007, and within a year this power outage went up to 30 percent between 2008 and 2009. The shortfall kept increasing till 6,151 MW in 2011. Furthermore, the shortfall is expected to increase by 8,000 MW in 2017 and 13,000 MW by 2020, according to some estimates. The only solution to overcome such sharp increase in power shortfall is to install reliable cheap power at a fast rate for which, this solar PV technology is the key.
Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Plant is located in Lal-Suhanrah Park Bahawalpur and covers an area of 500 acres of land. Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power is based on Photovoltaic Polycrystalline technology which is a robust highly recommended technology for desert areas where the power plant has a life of 25 years and above. It uses fixed tilted mounting architecture and the power plant is designed at 100 MWp DC at Standard Testing Conditions (STC). There are 392,160 255 W PV Modules, 200 inverters, 100 33kV step-up transformers and a substation with state of the art line protection system. All power from Solar PV plant is evacuated via 132 kV Bus to MEPCO, which is then supplied to all over the country.
Every renewable energy power plant constructed has been given an initial energy target by NEPRA and CPPA for an annual energy production. Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power was also given an initial target of 153,300 MWh for the first year, which Quaid-e-Azam Solar power not only achieved but surpassed by 4.43% (i.e. 160,088 MWh produced).
On October 12, 2013, the Economist published an interesting research report on European electrical utilities “How to lose half a trillion euro – Europe’s electricity providers face an existential threat.” The report highlighted how utility companies are losing millions by mismanaging electricity flow from renewable energy plants and losing valuable energy. We here at Quaid-e-Azam Solar have the expertise and the advantage of being the pioneers in the field of large scale renewables in Pakistan, having the vision to select the prime technologies that are not only feasible but reliable and will, in future, prevent power utilities from facing substantial losses. Quaid-e-Azam Solar has a vision to develop sustainable and self-sufficient micro girds with solar power systems that will in future someday become the model for self-sustaining cities.
Implementation of such plans requires leadership, solid base, research, discipline and good will. For this Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power is getting ISO certification and has registered for CDM carbon credits. Why ISO? is a question that some professionals have in their mind. The reason is that for Quaid-e-Azam Solar to achieve its goals it has to centralize and organize its system perfectly and ISO 9001 and other related standards such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 provides the platform to do just that.
At Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power, we aim to resolve problems before they occur. Our goal is energy security and reliability, energy innovation, energy saving, capital cost avoidance, reducing climate risks, development of green economy and greater penetration of distributed generation. Together, we look forward in developing sustainable power system of the future that is economical, modern, flexible and clean.
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