Significance of Solar Energy in Pakistan

by M. Wasim

In view of the growing needs of energy in Pakistan, the efficient use and development of renewable energy sources has become a major issue in the country. Fortunately, Pakistan is among those countries in which sun warms the surface throughout the year and therefore has a strong potential for solar power generation.

Solar energy, the power of the sun in the shape of sunlight, is a vast, inexhaustible and clean resource. Sunlight, or solar energy, can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and businesses, for generating electricity, and for hot water heating, solar cooling, and a variety of other commercial and industrial uses. 


With its plentiful sunshine, Pakistan has immense potential for solar power, with solar energy available @1000 watts/square meter. Remote and rural areas in Pakistan, particularly the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, stand to gain from developing solar power. In Balochistan, 77% of the population lives in rural areas and still 90 percent of villages are yet to be electrified. Given that these villages are remote from each other, laying down transmission lines is a costly solution. Harnessing solar energy in such remote areas would provide local people with access to electricity for their houses and businesses. This in turn would improve living standards and contribute to poverty alleviation.

Pakistan has some of the highest values of insolation in the world, with eight to nine hours of sunshine per day, ideal climatic conditions for solar power generation. The average monthly solar radiation intensity remains 136.05 to 287.36 W/m2 in Pakistan. However, the country has been slow to adopt the technology.


The country has solar plants in Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Initiatives are under development together with Japan and Chinese companies, and Pakistani private sector energy companies. The country aims to build the world’s largest solar power park, the Quaid e Azam Solar Power Park in the Cholistan Desert, Punjab, by 2017 with a 1 GW capacity. A plant of this size would be enough to power around 320,000 homes.

Pakistan’s natural gas resources are not infinite. Therefore it must turn to the development of alternative energy sources, such as solar power, as a cheap, inexhaustible, indigenous and pollution-free alternative that meets the energy needs of a developing economy.


Editorial, Infocus

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