Solar energy, anyone?

Why haven’t we migrated to solar energy yet? There’s plenty of sunshine in Karachi all year long. How much does a solar battery cost? Even if it costs higher than a normal generator, I am sure it would be a one time cost as there would be no recurring cost of fuel. Or is the technology not mature enough for commercial use? I came up with the concept of running entire house with solar energy few years ago, but honestly never worked on its feasibility. Anyone with some knowledge in this field?

16 Comments so far

  1. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 11:11 am

    I came up with the concept of running entire house with solar energy few years ago, but honestly never worked on its feasibility

    I am intrested to know details.

  2. IllusionFS (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 11:12 am

    good idea. but we need a lot of money and a lot of space to install all those solar panels. the technology is mature enough to be relied upon, I think its the cost factor (which ofcourse is a one time cost for atleast 20 years)

  3. UnholySaint (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    Agree with Illusion. Your return on investment is about 20yrs, provided there is no damage done to the glass panels. Here in the US, the biggest drawback is its exposure to hail storms which would shatter the panels. Its not just the panels you need, but storage capacitors, and a system to regulate the electricity. I think the current produced is DC. Windmills are a better option in terms of investment.

  4. mansoor (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

    I found this analysis on How Stuff Works.

    A “typical home” in America can use either electricity or gas to provide heat — heat for the house, the hot water, the clothes dryer and the stove/oven. If you were to power a house with solar electricity, you would certainly use gas appliances because solar electricity is so expensive. This means that what you would be powering with solar electricity are things like the refrigerator, the lights, the computer, the TV, stereo equipment, motors in things like furnace fans and the washer, etc. Let’s say that all of those things average out to 600 watts on average. Over the course of 24 hours, you need 600 watts * 24 hours = 14,400 watt-hours per day.

    From our calculations and assumptions above, we know that a solar panel can generate 70 milliwatts per square inch * 5 hours = 350 milliwatt hours per day. Therefore you need about 41,000 square inches of solar panel for the house. That’s a solar panel that measures about 285 square feet (about 26 square meters). That would cost around $16,000 right now. Then, because the sun only shines part of the time, you would need to purchase a battery bank, an inverter, etc., and that often doubles the cost of the installation.

    If you want to have a small room air conditioner in your bedroom, double everything.

    I’ve been monitoring the usage of my house, and we consume about 10 Kilowatts per day (STEEP!!!). Now, in order to have solar panels for that, i would need a number of panels, from this site, i picked one at random, which produces 170 watts for an investment of $839 per panel. A quick calculation (from the data provided on the site), tells me i need atleast 6 of these panels to power my house meaning an investment of $5034 (or Rs. 3,02,040) without addding any sort of tax or extra charges on the modules and i need a space of about 30×15 feet to house it. (again from data provided for this module).

    Now the KESC rate for domestic supply is about 7.5 per kilowatt (at their lowest slab), meaning that my monthly electricity bill becomes 2250 (without the charges, surcharges, and extra surcharges :S).

    So, just on these ideal figures (just the power usage, no infrastructure costs), it would take me about 135 months or about 11 years just to breakeven the cost of the cells.

    I think we should wait another decade or something, or encourage NEDians and other engineering universities to come up with solutions.. and let the prices fall down a bit. Its expected that the price will fall down to about 1/5 of what it costs now over the next decade.. which just may make this a viable option.

  5. Umer Zaman (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

    I checked this as well a long time back, i still have two big cell sheets measuring somewhere around 60 – 70 square feet.. but they are on a farm and theres plenty of space to put em..
    no matter how much careful you are, you still break the glass eventually.. i wouldnt agree to the 20 years reliability..
    They have to cleaned once a day atleast for them to even function, so if you put up a whole thing on top of your building you have to add the cost of a permanent employee whose only job would be to clean em every day

    UPS on the other hand is cheaper and more effective i guess..
    Check with your local electrician, they are all familiar with the invertors and batteries.. they’ll make you one for your place, according to your requirements and it wont be that expensive either

  6. Ramla A. (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    I read a report on solar energy issues a couple of years ago.

    From what I remember the deployment and maintenance of these units is a major issue. They require a huge surface area to capture energy, and also maintenance. This makes the solar energy rather awkward for urban use.

    Having said that, there is predicted to be a growing need in solar energy in the future as predicted by te World Future Society.

    In short, WIND ENERGY is a better solution for a place like Karachi. As with other things in life, there is no cookie-cutter energy solution for all regions and places. In Karachi, wind is persistent and windmill energy is more feasible.

    Speaking of localized solutions, “dung energy” is a solution being practiced in Africa and parts of India. It can be readily used in Punjab.

    Once upon a time I read a few books in the IUCN library (Bath Island, Karachi) on the issue, and interested reseatchers can find more material there.

  7. nocturnal (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

    I dont think wind energy is the best option for KARACHI.

    Being an engineer I could suggest that solar energy is still a best option for country like PAKISTAN in general.

    HAving worked on WIND TURBINE technology in Karachi we found that WIND SPEEDS available at the costal areas of karachi are not feasible to derive wind turbine. DATA WAS COLLECTED BY METROLOGICAL DEPTT.

    Recently me and my friend spoke to Asst. Director of Metrological Department in Islamabad, we wanted to collect WIND MAPS of our costal areas but he said he doesnt have any info regarding this so he gave us his assitant’s number. He said his assitant might be a helpful link in this regard.

    We emailed WAPDA’s RENEWABLE DEPARTMENT AS WELL IN ORDER TO KNOW WHETHER or not wind maps are available but we never got any reply from them.

    THE MAJOR DRAWBACK OF WIND TURBINE IS COMMISIONING COST. Though wind turbines have their advantages as well. Its depends on the available conditions, u cant use any of those renewable energy without doing proper research. For some countries wind turbine is useless.

    Germany , spain , USA and India are producing energy thorugh this technology.

    India is on fourth position in the list of those countries which are producing power through wind.

    And India has developed massive infrastructure and skills in that particular feild.

    And in our country our departments dont even bother to reply professionals who r interested to do something for the country.

    My frined has worked on SOLAR PANNELS and according to him this technology has a potential to grow, my frined and his brother met some HI_FI General in Islamabad , my friend gave him his presentation but again he didnt get a positive response from those BIG GUNSSSSS.

  8. Bilal Zuberi (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

    There is a lot of activity going on the Solar area in the US. Last year, 3 of the largest IPOs in the US were of solar companies. I urge you, especially the engineers, to look into their technologies and see what may be applicable to Pakistan. I recently wrote about the need for alternative energy in pakistan at: Recent advances in PV cells and especially polymeric and flexible solar cells have taken the industry by a storm. A good site to catch up on the new technology etc is: For following news related to energy, environment and clean tech investments, please visit a portal I maintain:

  9. YO YO (unregistered) on June 29th, 2006 @ 10:43 pm

    Just build the Kalabagh DAM dammit.

  10. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on June 30th, 2006 @ 10:05 am

    Just build the Kalabagh DAM dammit.

    Lets pray Paleejo and other morons die soon.

  11. kumar (unregistered) on June 30th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Hi all
    I am from India and I agree with Nocturnal. Infact Suzlon, an Indian company, is giving competition to major players in global market. Suzlon is into Windmill Power Generation. Now lets move to the point of solar power. I will soon get a solar powered system installed at my house. I am just working on costs that vary from 15K INRs to 30K INR. One of my friend has been using this solar powered inverter at his place. This solar energy system can charge a battery which in turn runs and inverter. This can light 4 CFLs each 15 Watt (60 Watt) a ceiling fan. In a medium sized room 2 CFLs are ok hence I guess its a good deal.
    Now the cost, Indian govt is giving subsidy if you want to use any renewable energy source and in some cases this goes upto 80% (WHOA!!!). In my city, Chandigarh we have solar powered lamp posts and these lamp posts use CFLs. Govt is encouraging farmers to use Solar Powered Pumpsets and tubewells. Here are few links that may be help to you. a big player in Indian Market hoempage of Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, Government of India

  12. Tariq (unregistered) on June 30th, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

    Don’t know of any solar power projects in Karachi, but some companies have jointly started work on a wind-power project in Ghotki for electricity supply to Karachi. Let’s see how that comes along.

  13. Naveed Ahmad (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    Hi I am Naveed from Islamabad, Pakistan. I will discuss about “Why is solar energy so expensive?”

    There are many reasons why solar energy is so expensive. I’ll try to shed light on a few of
    a. Competition is minimal.
    b. Government regulations will not allow house owners to install their own systems.
    c. Architects are reluctant to approve innovative unproven solar house designs.
    d. Builders find that it is not profitable for them to spend excessive architectural fees on designs that are not mainstream and salable.
    e. Our government, who should be demonstrating a leadership position in the promotion and use of solar energy, is the primary offender of energy conservation and has no interest in the promotion of a sustainable culture that might threaten the
    f. Most people are too busy dealing with the problems of day to day survival to be
    concerned with the headache of a long range investment like solar energy.
    h. oil corporations, who control our economy are doing all they can to discourage the proliferation of alternative energies.
    i. We have become addicted to fossil fuel energy concentrates the way a child becomes addicted to candy.

  14. Farhat Khanzada (unregistered) on July 6th, 2006 @ 12:34 am

    I think following Advertisementwould be appropriate info for the group.
    We design solar powered systems and provide after sale services anywhere in Pakistan. We deal in solar street lighting, solar garden lights, solar water pumping, solar vaccine fridges, solar wind combined systems. Our specially designed solar water heating systems are performing perfectly all over the country. We also provide central solar heating for homes. We are also in wind energy systems and hydel systems. We are providing consultancy services to environmental NGO’s working in Pakistan.
    Business type: manufacturer, wholesale, supplier, importer
    Product types: Photovoltaic systems, air heating systems,wind energy system components(large),LED lighting,LED flood lights, LED Decoration Lights, LED Spot Lights, LED Building Decorations and LED Traffic Signals,Alternative home and building construction materials, solar vaccine refrigerators and solar water pumping system, Solar Cookers both Box Type and Parabolic Type, .
    Service types: Installation and Consultancy Services.
    Address: House 65, Gomal Road, Sector E-7, Islamabad, Federal Province Pakistan 44000
    Telephone: +92512654765
    FAX: +92512654764”

  15. Farhat Khanzada (unregistered) on July 6th, 2006 @ 12:38 am

    Another good infor for the group as follows:
    “Pakistan Solar Power Project
    We are working on the awareness and education of alternative solar solutions for thepeople of Pakistan. Presently the solor products are very high cost so out of reach for normal consumer.We commit ourselves to provide low cost solar solutions to consumers of Pakistan. Lets join hand to make Pakistan a prosperious country.
    Business type: importer, nonprofit organization
    Product types: solar electric power systems, solar garden lights, solar water heating systems, DC to AC power inverters.
    Service types: project development services, education and training services
    Address: No 298,Street 14,Sector F-10/2, Islamabad, Federal Pakistan 44000
    Telephone: +923005010998”

  16. Farhat Khanzada (unregistered) on July 6th, 2006 @ 12:40 am


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