New Solar Power Plant of Bahawalpur - BY: Prof. Munir M. Hasan, Ph.D.

Today I have seen a news item on TV that a solar plant of 220 MW will be constructed in Bahawalpur by a Turk company. Immediately a question came to my mind. Why a Turk company should do it when the expertise of managing this project is available in Pakistan? Obviously, the intention of awarding this project to a Turk company, without assessing its feasibility, is not fair on the consideration of kickbacks.

Secondly, being an electrical engineer, I know that the unit cost of solar power, throughout the world, is is still higher than the power produced by conventional means. Many countries are installing solar plants in order to encourage the local manufacturers and businessmen to start this business locally, and for this purpose even the high cost of solar power is being subsidized. In Pakistan, if a foreign company is hired to carry out this project, then Pakistani manufacturers and dealers will not be benefited and there will be no encouragement for them for the transfer of technology in Pakistan.

In fact, before the announcement of such projects, the viability of these projects should be assessed by the professional bodies such as "Pakistan Engineering Council" (PEC) which has the status of semi-governmental body, and some voluntary organizations such as "Institute of Engineers, Pakistan" (IEP), and "Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Pakistan" (IEEEP). I am not proposing the name of "National Electrical Power Regulatory Authority" (NEPRA) for this purpose because, in spite of the fact that it is a Regulatory Authority, it is still under the influence of the Provincial and Federal governments. These organizations should compare the capital cost with the costs in other countries, should calculate the unit cost, and tell the government how much subsidy will be required if a solar plant of this size is erected.

Posted on Feb 10, 17 | 8:56 am