The trend of harnessing solar energy is around since the beginning of civilization. Sun had a mystical influence on humankind and there are several references of solar deities in ancient to medieval religions. The status of the sun still holds importance but it’s changed from a god to a source of clean energy.
Early Romans and Azteks used polished mirrors to light torches and heat the water in their bathhouses by focusing sunlight. Chinese civilization used mirrors for similar purposes since 20 AD. However, the trend of harnessing solar energy is getting popular in the modern age to produce electricity.
Solar energy promises several benefits, first, it’s clean, and second, its infrastructure is readily available across the globe nowadays. The photovoltaic effect was discovered by French scientist Edmond Becquerel, he found that electricity production increases when two metal electrodes dipped in a conductive solution are exposed to sunlight. Later in 1883, Charles Fritts developed the first photovoltaic cell from Selenium wafers.
The early adopters in solar technology were leading space agencies like NASA, powering their satellites via solar panels for continuous electric supply in outer space.
In 1973, the University of Delaware constructed the first building completely powered by solar energy. It used the integrated solar tiles rather than the conventional solar panels-the model currently Tesla’s Solar Roof product is using.
The immense potential of solar energy is coming to the limelight with global leaders switching to solar energy. In 2010, Barrack Obama issued an order to install solar panels and solar water heaters to lead by example in environmental conservation. Currently, China is leading the way both in electricity production and solar panel manufacturing with an installed capacity above 200,000 MW per day. Solar water heaters and solar panels are ubiquitous across China.
The potential of solar energy in Pakistan is tremendous but needs exploitation. The geographical location of Pakistan makes it suitable to capitalize on the solar daily irradiance of the country. The average solar irradiance in Pakistan is 5.3 kWh/m2/day. Solar radiation falling on the plainer coastal areas is higher and offers tremendous potential in electricity production and easing the import burden on the Pakistani economy.
Currently, Pakistan is producing 3800 MW of electricity from PV cells across the country: Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur being the country’s largest production facility with an installed capacity of 100MW. There is still huge potential to be tapped in to as the average monthly solar insolation in the Cholistan is 7 kWh/m2.
The solar irradiance map of Pakistan gives a detailed idea of tremendous potential hidden in terms of solar energy. The data is based on 12 years of data collection at various
The urgency to adopt clean energy sources around the globe is rapidly increasing. Environmental agencies are taking robust initiatives to pursue clean energy in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. According to recent estimates, the energy needs of Pakistan are expected to surpass 49,000 Mega Watts by 2025.
The growing energy need is stretching the national grid. The recent energy additions in the national grid are less sustainable and pose a considerable threat to the already deteriorating environment. Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Hassan Chaudhary, highlighted the desires of the government to invest more in solar and other clean energy sources. The current market share of solar energy is only 4 percent and the government eyes to expand it to 20 percent by the year 2030.
The intent of the government has sparked the interest of many global players as there is a huge potential for investment in the solar energy industry of Pakistan.
Businesses across Pakistan shall start to pay attention to adopting solar energy to sustain substantial growth in the near future. The recent technological advancements and geographical location make the country an ideal location for manufacturing facilities.
Pakistan has emerged as a significant contributor to Belt and Road Initiative. The CPEC projects will establish Pakistan as a major player in global trade. The energy demand is going to increase exponentially and clean energy will play an important role to keep the country’s carbon credit in check.
Energy independence can make the country a desirable place for economic activity. The major wage bill of the country comprises of the energy imports in the form of oil, gas, and other fossil fuels to satisfy the hunger. Reduction in import bill will ascertain the economic progress of the country.
Energy projections reveal that Pakistan’s energy demands will surge to 490000 MW by 2025. Current projections predict that the country will again suffer from power outages and shortfalls. The textile sector of Pakistan has suffered in competition with Bangladesh, India, and China due to high power costs leading to overall high manufacturing costs and load shedding.
The future energy demands and current production facilities do not align. Businesses might suffer in the future as well unless swift actions are not taken presently. Investing in Solar energy in standalone projects might seem costly today but it will help a firm to be less dependent on costly electricity from the national grid.