Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, it is also inflicted with power shortage which is hampering the growth of any kind in the province. In the last few weeks the CM has expressed his willingness to start a solar powered, biomass powered and coal-powered plants in Punjab with different companies. Solar power is a renewable clear source of energy, but it is also one of the most expensive per unit production power plants. A solar power plant has an efficiency of 15 percent. There are some newly designed solar panels that have ‘Quantum dots’ on it, which increases its efficiency to 25 percent, but these, are in test stages and not a common design.
Solar powered panels have witnessed a dramatic drop in its price in the past decade, but even then they are out of reach of the ordinary consumer. A one watt solar panel costs $3 on an average while one unit of electricity consists of 1000 watts supplied for one hour. So to produce 1kw at 15 percent efficiency, we would require 6,667 watts solar panels, costing $20,000, and as solar panels have a life of 10 years, therefore each unit of electricity will cost us on average $0.55, which is 350 percent more expensive than Hydro power.
Instead it is better if the Punjab government works in partnership with the KPK government to develop indigenous Hydro power plants in KPK, that have the capacity to produce electricity at 0.12$ per unit and have a longer lifetime of 25-50 years. The provinces can agree to supply a certain percentage of electricity produced at this plant to Punjab for some remuneration, as both parties can agree on terms.
Pakistan has the capacity to produce 55,000MW of electricity from Hydal power, which will also provide some storage of water to Pakistan. Since Punjab has the highest agricultural output, the storage of water will be an additional benefit for the province. This collaboration will not only help Punjab end its energy crisis, it will also help the KPK government develop its natural resources. It will also start a new cooperation between the two provinces. And by developing projects in Pakistan, we will be able to keep the investments inside the country.
SHAHRYAR KHAN BASEER,
Peshawar, August 3.