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The Solar Power Park

03 September, 2013

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park spread on 10,000 acres of land in Cholistan has been approved, in which the Punjab government will set up projects of 700 megawatts from its own resources and in the first phase, work will start on eight projects of 50 megawatts each.

I don't know why Cholistan has been picked up in particular to set up the park as the electricity so produced would hardly be used there and would have to be integrated into the national power grid system which would need long and costly High Tension transmission lines apart from other costly and expensive infra structure. To carry electric power over long distances it has be to high voltage – in the order of 132 KVA system - to avoid colossal line losses. That would necessitate stepping up of the low voltage DC power produced into High Voltage AC through costly and expensive DC-AC convertors and stepping up transformers. Then again large capacity secondary battery banks in large numbers would be required to store the power – 700 MW - and act as reservoir for the dark or no-sun or little sun hours. The maintenance and the periodic replacement costs of such storage batteries and battery banks will be colossal (batteries are to be repl aced every two years or even earlier) let alone their initial purchase costs.

To avoid such huge long HT transmission lines and other recurring costs, the Solar Electric Power all over the world is produced locally and at smaller scales, but in great numbers at all different places, just to meet the local requirements only. The power is not brought from hundreds of kilometres away but produced LOCALLY on the city based, town and village based, project and industrial based requirements just enough to meet the demand.

The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park would also need all other additional necessary facilities such as housing, roads, water, sewerage, schools, playgrounds, community centres, mosques, hospital and dispensary etc. so that the engineers and other persons could perform their duties devotedly. Incidentally and ironically, the high temperatures in the summer months of Cholistan would need so much of the air conditioning that a considerable amount of the electricity produced by the solar park would be consumed by the park itself ! Similarly good infrastructure for the evacuation of electricity, laying of the transmission lines, provisioning of water and other projects would be required.

All this expenditure could be avoided by having scores of smaller Solar Power projects spread all over the country instead of one Mega project at one place. From the defence strategic point of view also it is better to have dispersed power producing facilities instead of one lucrat ive target for the enemy air force. However, for reasons best known to the present day Tughlaqs they are fond of only Mega Projects costing Billions and Trillions instead of the smaller ones that could do the same job.

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