Measures are being taken to power streetlights on all major roads in Karachi and Hyderabad with solar energy. Deputy Commissioner South, Mustafa Jamal Qazi, spoke to Technology Times and explained much more about the project details
How did the government conceptualize the idea of installing solar-powered street lights?
MUSATFA JAMAL QAZI: President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari is the man to whom the credit should go for bringing this technology into Pakistan. We were once at a high-level meeting with the President when someone had brought up the issue of non-functional streetlights. The President pointed out that all over the world, streetlights now use low voltage technology which consumes less power and provides better illumination.
He said that he had seen solar powered streetlights in Italy and suggested that it should be brought into Pakistan. In fact, he logged onto his laptop and began searching for the technology during the meeting!
Once he had all the information available, he directed his people to contact the concerned organisation providing the technology in Italy and work on bringing it to this country.
Who are the stakeholders that are involved with this project?
The government of Sindh, the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC), the district administrations, the Hyderabad Commissioner and the Italian firm, Sira Pakistan (Pvt) Limited are the main stakeholders involved with the project.
Tell us a little about this Italian company.
Sira Pakistan (Pvt) Limited is an Italian firm based in Lazio, Italy. Its chief executive officer is Marco Liguori. At present, we are importing the streetlights directly from the company. This firm has no manufacturing units or plant in Pakistan, but the government is working to convince the management to establish itself in Pakistan and manufacture part of its low-sodium streetlights technology here to save Pakistan the import costs and also to gain foreign investment in the country.
How will the solar powered streetlights benefit the economy of Pakistan?
For this, you have to first understand the difference between the traditional streetlights that are being currently used in Pakistan and the new solar powered streetlights that will be installed.
The traditional sodium streetlights use high amounts of energy. They can only operate on the electricity supplied by power supplying companies and solar panels cannot work on them. Moreover, the filaments of these lights can burn out leaving them non-functional.
On the other hand, low-sodium lights use low energy and, therefore, they can easily be run on solar energy. They also have better illumination and the bulb cannot burn out since it has a resister – which would let the light bulb ‘trip’ if high voltage is passed through it.
So the major advantage of this technology is the energy conservation it will do, which will in turn save huge amounts of electricity bill incurred to the government. Reduction in electricity bills can help the government deal with its circular debt, while the reduction in energy consumption can help the government deal with its energy crisis.
You have mentioned energy conservation. Could you please elaborate on that?
The low-sodium lights will lead to an average 75 per cent energy conservation as compared to the current 250 watts streetlights. This has already been tried and tested in several places including my own house area.
For a period of 17 days, 55 watts low-sodium were installed and tested for eight hours per day along side the 250 watts sodium lights in the streetlights of my house area. The result was extremely positive as more than 80 per cent energy was conserved.
The advantages run further. Since the streetlights are low-sodium, they are environmentally-friendly. They also have a guaranteed running-life of 10 years.
When was the first test trial carried out and where?
The first test trial was carried out in Mardan from January 27, 2010 to February 22, 2010. A 250 watts sunlight was compared with low-sodium streetlights for illumination and energy saving. As per the technical report, during the test and trial conducted for 27 days, about 70 per cent energy saving was registered with the low-sodium lights.
What is the budget of the project?
You have to understand that these solar powered streetlights are more expensive than the traditional lights in use. It costs approximately Rs65,000 to Rs70,000 per unit. Therefore, the budget is also high for the conversion of these streetlights. However, in the long run, the benefits of these streetlights are far more while the government can save mush more money by opting this economical option.
What will be the initial areas where the solar powered streetlights will be installed?
The installation of these streetlights has already started in different areas of Karachi and Hyderabad. In Karachi, Shahra-e-Faisal, Shahra-e-Quiadeen and the area in front of the KMC Building are the main target areas. We chose these areas as they are big pathways and the main entry and exit points for all the major localities of the city.
How long with this project take to complete and how many streetlights will be installed?
The PC-1 for this project has already been approved and as I have mentioned, the work is already underway. The aim is to complete both Karachi and Hyderabad in the next two to three years, before moving to other parts of the country. It is also pertinent to mention here that not only the main streetlights, but also smaller streets, highways and parks will have these low-sodium streetlights installed.
Both Karachi and Hyderabad will have approximately 400 purely solar-powered low-sodium streetlights and 600 low-sodium streetlights run on regular electricity.