An Overview of Photovoltaic Power Generation and Solar PV Technology in Rural Areas of Pakistan

Research Paper (postgraduate) 2014 11 Pages

Energy Sciences


An Overview of Photovoltaic Power Generation and Solar PV Technology in Rural Area of Pakistan

Rehan Jamil[1], Ming Li[2], Xu Ji[2] and Xi Luo[2]

[1]School of Physics and Electronic Information, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China, ch.rehan.jamil@gmail.com

[2]Solar Energy Research Institute, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China, lmlldy@126.com

[2]Solar Energy Research Institute, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China, jxime@126.com

[2]Solar Energy Research Institute, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China, luoxi303@126.com


In this paper, we examine the solar energy which is the ultimate and free source of energy. Pakistan is situated in the sunny belt that is ideal for the solar energy technologies. This energy is abundantly available in the country as sun shines almost the whole year. The electricity in Pakistan is now facing a serious energy crisis. Despite of strong economic growths during the past decade and consequent rising demand of energy, no valuable steps have been taken to install new capacity for generation of the required energy. In this respect, solar PV is an option for electricity generation. A very large part of the rural population does not have the facility of electricity because they are either too remote or it is found extremely expensive to connect their villages to the national grid station. We can easily utilize the solar PV in some areas of Pakistan; this kind of energy is becoming familiar. Finally, in this paper importance of solar PV technology in rural area is discussed. Geographically, overview of solar radiation and solar PV option for electricity generation for the country is explored from multiple perspective comprising technical, economic, social, environmental and political aspects.


Solar energy, Solar radiation, Photovoltaic power generation, Photovoltaic (PV) Technology, Pakistan.

1. Introduction

In Pakistan, about 43% of the total population live without access to electricity. The 70% of this under-served population lives in rural areas, approximately 50,000 villages completely detached from the national electricity grid and most of them are below the poverty line. Many of these villages are far from the main transmission lines of the national grid, because of their relatively small population is usually not economically feasible to connect these villages to the grid [1].

In this respect, solar PV technology stands out to be one of the prospective sources to combat this adverse situation. Pakistan is in a very favourable position in respect of the utilization of solar energy. Solar energy has excellent potential in areas of Pakistan that receive high levels of solar radiation throughout the year. Every day, the country receives an average of about 19 MJ/m2 of solar energy. However, solar energy can produce power at the point of demand in both rural and urban areas.

Corresponding author address: School of Physics & Electronic Information,Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650092, PR China. Tel. /fax: +8618313855339. E-mail address: ch.rehan.jamil@gmail.com (Rehan Jamil).

Solar PV electricity is an equally significant energy option for developing countries, Because of the cost of transmission lines, difficult of transporting fuel to remote areas and issues related to security of energy supply in developing countries are increasingly turning to solar energy as a cost-effective way to supply electricity.

Most governments in the developing countries give high priority to rural electrification to meet economic, socials, political and regional development goals. Several governmental and private organizations are working to install solar PV technology in rural Pakistan to meet basic energy needs. The application of PV technology in rural area is indirectly increasing the income as well as the living standard of the rural people.

Under Solar Village Electrification Program, Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has been installed 3,000 Solar Home System (SHS) in 49 villages of district Tharparkar, Sindh. Another 51 villages in Sindh and 300 villages in Balochistan are approved for electrification using solar energy and will be implemented on release funds [8,14].

Another important initiative of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) Development Authority is Solar Electrification Program. Solar electricity was provided to 42 villages all over FATA and security check posts from Takhta Baig to Torkhum in Khyber Agency under the Solar Electrification Program during 2011-2012 [16]. Keeping in view the increasing demand of energy in the country, the FATA Development Authority (DA) is exploring alternate sources of energy. For this purpose, FATA DA has completed a feasibility study to provide solar energy to 450 villages of FATA. Actual electrification of about 44 villages has already started under two schemes.

2. Solar PV power generation- A global scenario

Solar PV power is the conversion of solar radiation into electricity using solar PV panels. Solar panels vary in size and power capacity, with individual panels ranging from a watt to a couple of hundred watts. These individual panels can be connected together to for a solar PV array that can be up to a megawatt in capacity. The largest single solar array in the world is installed in Utah, USA and is of 1.65 MW. Solar arrays are modular in nature and therefore solar power plants, comprising of multiple solar arrays, can be of any size from the watt- kilowatt scale to the gig watt scale (a 2,000 MW solar PV plant is under development in Tunisia, expected to be on line in 2016).

Solar PV, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful; renewable, widely distributed, cleans, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. It is widely expected that by the end of 2015 over 150 GW of solar PV power could be installed around the globe.

However, there are several limitations that need to be considered regarding solar PV power. Firstly, the technology requires a large amount of land (5 acres per MW can be considered a rule of thumb), which is a limiting factor to how much solar energy can be installed, and secondly, most renewable technologies as they are today cannot be used for base load applications due to the intermittency of energy supply caused by seasonal and time of day variations in output. This limits the share of solar energy to about 20% of the total installed capacity in any grid system as increasing it beyond this threshold could result in issues with grid stability [15].

Driven by advances in technology and increases in manufacturing scale and sophistication, the cost of solar PV panels has declined steadily since the first solar cells were manufactured and the levelized cost of electricity from PV is competitive with conventional electricity sources in an expanding list of geographic regions. Furthermore, net-metering and financial incentives, such as (Feed-in-Tariff) FIT/Upfront Tariffs for solar-generated electricity, have supported solar PV installations in many countries.

2.1. Global trends in solar PV power

Solar PV technology is the fastest growing power generation technology in the world with PV capacity being installed in over 100 countries. There has been a steady increase in the year-end capacities of solar PV capacities installed, particularly from the year 2008 onwards. Though European countries dominate the market, the technology continues to grow in Asia-Pacific, North America, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The following table shows the increasing solar PV capacities globally.


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Solar energy Solar radiation Photovoltaic power generation Photovoltaic (PV) Technology Pakistan




Title: An Overview of Photovoltaic Power Generation and Solar PV Technology in Rural Areas of Pakistan