By Imran Rana
The demand for solar panels has increased considerably, thanks to extensive power and gas outages and high tariffs that have not only hurt industrial activities but have also disturbed the monthly household budgets.
According to a study conducted by ICF, a consulting firm for the US Department of Defense, surplus land at four military bases in the Mojave desert in California could be capable of producing up to 7 Gigawatts of solar power. These bases include, the Edwards Air Force base, Fort Erwin, China Lake and Twenty-nine Palms. Some 37,873 acres of land is available for setting these solar power plants, without impacting the space needs of the military for its ongoing operational needs or for potential future needs. The type of solar power plant to be installed, whether silicon flat panels or solar concentrators, has not yet been determined. If the go-ahead happens, power plant construction could commence by 2015.
Some more astonishing stats on the progress Germany is making on solar power thanks to good, steady and predictable renewable energy policy: Greentech Media shares the astonishing fact that in the month of December alone Germany installed 2 GW of solar PV. For the whole of 2011, Germany installed 7 GW.
The US managed to install 1.7 GW in the same time period—which isn’t to knock US installation rates so much as to further highlight the massive Germany push to install more PV before the feed-in tariff for it drop as planned.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan said that the government had devised a plan to generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity from Thar coal by 2020.
The federal government had been approached for laying a transmission line to take the electricity from Thar field to the national grid, he said while presiding over a meeting on Thar coal at the Governor’s House Thursday. He said installation of transmission network is the integral part of the plan which should be ready by the time power projects are ready to generate electricity from Thar coal.
The Governor pointed out that Thar coal would be utilised to make Pakistan self-sufficient in power generation to strengthen economy and make this area the hub of the petro-chemical industry.
Flexible thin-film solar PV manufacturer Ascent Solar Technologies announced yesterday that China’s TFG Radiant Group is acquiring an additional 21% equity stake in the company by purchasing shares owned by Norsk Hydro Produksjon AS for $4 million. The purchase price, at about $0.50 per share, is a 19% premium to Nasdaq-listed Ascent’s $0.42 closing share price on Tuesday, and will bring TFG’s overall equity in Ascent to 41%.
The Zibo city of China is ready to share expertise for setting up solar energy projects in Hyderabad, according to Dr Wang Jianzhong, deputy director of the Zibo Municipal Foreign Affairs Office.
Speaking at a reception given in his honour by the Hyderabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), he said Zibo was one of the most important industrial cities of China.
He said that in the trade with Pakistan, Zebo mainly imported cotton and exported medicines, industrial equipment and other goods.
Feed-in tariffs for wind energy have been submitted to the Water and Power Ministry from Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA).
NEPRA has proposed a novel two-tier system of tariffs depending upon ownership. Pakistan will pay foreign wind developers less than domestically-owned companies.
The Punjab cabinet has approved the recruitment of 32,218 science teachers and a pilot electricity conservation project, and formed a committee to suggest a procedure for the appointment of chancellors to public universities.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, briefing reporters after Thursday’s cabinet meeting, said the Energy Department’s Annual Plan and Strategy for 2011-12, the annual report of the Punjab Pension Fund, and amendment bills for the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974 and Disposal of Land by Development Authorities (Regulations) Act 1998 had also been approved.
Building permission has already been granted to 30 companies for green energy systems with a total capacity of 30 GW. Against this background, feed-in tariffs are intended to help make the country less dependent on foreign oil imports. Wind energy, in particular, is to be promoted.
Pakistan’s research on renewable energy has been severely hit by a lack of funds, experts say, forcing it to look abroad to import green technologies.
The country will aim to boost technology transfer from China and Germany for solar panels and wind turbines, and attract more investment for research and development (R&D), according to its five-year policy on renewable energy, which will be launched in August by the Alternative Energy Development Board.
Pakistan already has plans to generate 2,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity from solar and wind sources under an agreement signed last year (19 December) with China’s Wind Electric.
But some experts say that importing technology is only a short-term fix and that the government should invest more in developing local technologies.
“The funding in renewable energy technology research by the government of Pakistan is close to nothing,” said Masood Ahmed, head of the Sustainable Development Research Centre at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.
There is a “serious need” for government funding to tap into the country’s huge potential in the sector and “resolve the deepening power crisis in Pakistan”, he said.
The main power resources in Pakistan are oil and gas, but reserves of both are expected to have run out by 2030, according to the state-owned Oil and Gas Development Company, and the country already faces an energy shortfall.
“Previous and present governments have shown that they are only interested in short-term solutions to the present energy crisis, as reflected in mere imports of renewable energy technology,” said Ahmed.
This shows that strengthening research in Pakistan’s renewable energy sector is not high on the government’s agenda, he added.
Pakistan’s universities have run pilot projects in areas such as fuel cells, biodiesel, ethanol fuel, innovative lighting systems, fuel cells for vehicles and biogas.
But they lack the funds to continue their research and roll out the technologies, according to Arshad Abbasi, water and energy advisor at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
The new policy will set a target of generating five per cent of Pakistan’s total commercial energy from alternative and renewable energy sources by 2030.
It will offer financial incentives for projects including a manufacturing base for renewable energy plants and components, and will seek to develop the infrastructure for renewable energy programmes with help from the Asian Development Bank and the US Agency for International Development.
MANILA:Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will launch the Asia Accelerated Solar Energy Development Fund with $2.25 billion as it targets solar power projects in countries including China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Thailand to add another 1,000 megawatts next year and 1,500MW in 2013.
“By providing an enabling environment for commercial lending and private investment in the solar energy market, we hope to encourage its rapid growth and bring solar energy nearer to grid parity – making solar energy competitive in price to conventional sources,” ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said at a clean energy forum in Manila on Wednesday.
He said Asia needs to invest around $10 billion in the next few years to make solar power generation competitive with conventional energy sources and called for radical steps to fight climate change.
He said ADB wants Asia, home to about two-thirds of the world’s population, to add 3,000 megawatts of solar energy capacity by the end of 2013. Already this year, it has helped countries add 500 megawatts, doubling the region’s solar capacity. Fast-growing Asian economies rely heavily on fossil fuels. ADB has forecast Asia-Pacific imports of fossil fuels will more than double between 2005 and 2030, with oil accounting for more than 90 per cent of such imports.
“The total cost of this 3,000 MW is about $10 billion, of which we are planning to commit $2.25 billion,” S Chander, Principal Director at ADB’s Office of Information Systems and Technology, told reporters.
“Our job is to catalyse enough projects to increase volumes and to make sure that the manufacturers (of low-carbon technologies) have an incentive to invest in research and development,” Chander said.
ADB invested $1.76 billion in clean energy across 29 projects last year and said it is on track to meet a goal of $2 billion in clean energy investments annually by 2013. It plans to inject $60 million into three venture capital funds that will provide early-stage financing support for new climate technology products. It expects this initiative to leverage over $400 million in private sector investment.
Kuroda said Asia had a lot to lose from climate change and needed to act quickly to develop alternate energy source. “A big push is needed to accelerate this transition,” he said. “The climate fight will be won or lost by decisions made in this region.”