Solar energy-a solution to crisis

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By Muhammad Rahimuddin

WE ARE fortunate to live in a country that offers a multitude of natural resources yet to be harnessed for their entire potential. Arguably the most important of these, with reference to the present atrocious energy crisis and the intensifying effects of climate change, are the renewable sources of energy.
It is imperative that not only the government but also private entrepreneurs take the initiative of harnessing renewable energy sources.
The aim should not only be to close the ever widening gap between energy production and need in the country, but also to introduce a new market for sustainable ways of increasing consumption through low emissions development.
The Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy (PCRET) has already undertaken some groundbreaking work in this regard by researching the potential of renewable sources of energy for commercial and personal use through localised design and development principles.
In the last few years, PCRET has designed and developed 10 solar dryers for drying of dates, a solar hybrid system for dehydration of apricot on commercial scale and more than 500 solar cookers handed over to NGOs for dissemination and popularisation.
A commendable initiative taken by the CDA is giving a local manufacturer the approval to install solar-powered lamp posts
along the strip of Jinnah Avenue in the Blue Area, Islamabad, with no cost to the city exchequer.
The manufacture, installation and maintenance costs are to be borne by the providing company, which will recover its project cost by renting out advertising space on the lamp posts.
The Karachi administrator has also announced that the city will utilize solar power for lighting in public places. Solar PV technology, coupled with LED lights, has a high potential for saving significant amounts of energy and reducing the burden on the environment by reducing carbon emissions and slowing the rate of deforestation associated with fuel wood usage in rural areas.
While these products can help urban users cut down on their energy bills and ensure sustainable and cheap energy sources, among the vast off-grid rural populations these products can transform the way people live by providing them with street lighting for security, commercial activity and linking them to the world through the electronic media.
Although the government has a key role to play in facilitating the development of such a market for renewable energy products, local private entrepreneurs have a golden opportunity to harness what are already common and commercially viable products in a number of developing countries.
Solar-powered lights, heating systems and cooling units offer viable alternatives to the current fossil fuel burning household energy needs. Importing assembly kits and setting up a small-scale assembly plant for these products in secondary towns and cities offers the potential for becoming a successful social enterprise, utilising the triple bottom line goals philosophy by targeting planet, people and profits.
A number of NGOs are already working in numerous regions across the country to help create awareness and build capacity for the replication of energy efficient and sustainable sources of lighting, heating and cooking technologies.
As countries across the world introduce policies to encourage these developments, we must step up to introduce and encourage these products which can offer relief and an improved quality of life to millions across the country.


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