Monthly Engineering Horizons



April 13
15:13 2015

By: Engr. Faiz Muhammad Bhutta, Chairman Pakistan Solar Association (PSA), Director Solar Institute (Pvt) Ltd. Lahore. Email:,

Keywords: solar, Pakistan, solar energy, solar opportunities, solar challenges, solar PV standards, Solar work force, solar policy, solar plans. Barriers, off-grid, on-grid, hybrid, solar plants


Solar Energy is one form of energy generated from solar which is abundant in Pakistan because of its location at sunbelt. The solar potential is more than 2000 GW. The irradiation level in Pakistan is 3 to 7 Kwhr/m2. Around 55 million people – more than 30% of the population – do not have access to electricity. Pakistan is passing through a serious energy crisis and solar energy can be one of quickest solution to resolve energy crisis. Off-grid solar can be a solution for people having no grid access and solar Hybrid can be a solution for rural and urban areas where grid is available and by deployment of solar hybrid systems, the grid can be eased out and 6000MW power deficit can easily be overcome through such solar deployments. Replacement of conventional street lights by solar street lights is energy saving opportunity. Replacement of Diesel pumps by solar pumps is also an energy saving opportunity. Bangladesh solar model is a successful model to follow. Smart and micro-grid is another opportunity for solar deployments. Large scale solar power plants is a long term solution. The challenges are huge to overcome. Government support is almost zero. Taxes and duties on solar battery and solar hybrid inverters have been imposed effective from July 01, 2014 and duties and taxes on solar panels have been taken back upon efforts of Pakistan Solar Association. Commensuration letter process from Government department is very horrible. Mark up at solar financing is 16-18%. No Micro-credit scheme for solar is available. No solar education in schools and Universities exists. No local solar PV standards exist. No authentic solar data is available. No national solar plan is yet available. No national solar policy exists. No net metering law exists. No FIT policy exists for different slabs of energy generation. No policy for solar captive power plants exists. There is a need for comprehensive national solar policy and its smart implementation.

Pakistan Solar Association (PSA) is making all efforts to protect and promote solar business in Pakistan. By formulating national solar policy and provicial solar plans, we can overcome energy crisis and can provide clean energy to the people in Pakistan in a very short time as compared to other power generation options.

Solar technology is at the heart of the renewable energy market and has been a alternate source of new electricity generation for the last few years in Pakistan. Private households and businesses are looking at ways to take more control over energy production for several reasons: for homeowners, there is a way to get rid of loadshedding, reduce their ever rising energy bills and sense of environmental responsibility; for businesses there is a real issue of mitigating the risk of relying entirely upon external energy providers. Another major reason for residential and industrial customers to invest in solar is to have more control over their future energy bills.

Global Solar PV Installations have surpassed 103GW. Asia is now getting lead over Europen market in terms of Solar PV Instalaltions. In the top 10 countries, there are 4 Asia-Pacific countries (China, Japan, India, Australia), 5 European countries (Germany, Italy, UK, Greece and Romania), and one country in the Americas region (USA).

Solar Energy is one form of energy generated from solar Cells. Solar radiations are abundant in Pakistan because of its location at sunbelt. The solar potential is more that 2000 GW. The irradiation level in Pakistan is 3 to 7 Kwhr/m2. Around 55 million people – more than 30% of the population – do not have access to electricity.

Pakistan is passing through a serious energy crisis with power shortage of more than 6000MW resulting of load shedding of 12 hours in cities and 20 hours in rural areas. Such prolonged power shortages have a major impact on Pakistan economy cutting GDP growth by 3%. There are many solar PV opportunities in Pakistan which can be exploited to overcome energy shortages. First opportunity is to provide off-grid solar solutions to 30% population which have no access to electricity. If one household consisting of five persons is taken an example having load of 2 KW, then there is solar PV opportunity of 22 GW and if one KW solar system costs about Rs.150,000, then total off-grid market potential comes out about Rs.1674 Billion. Mini and Micro-grid can also be off-grid solution for clusters. Communities can own these mini and micro-grid stations and can create jobs for communities. This solar off-grid access to non-grid access areas will increase income generation, reduce health risks and provide access to students studying in the night and providing health clinics to work in the night for patient check-up and treatments. Off-grid solar electricity access will link up economically these deprived areas with the national markets. Second opportunity for solar system is for those who are connected to Grid but facing 12 to 20 hours load shedding and this includes rural and urban both. Hybrid solar system is the solution for such kind of households and they can get 40% energy from Solar and 60% energy from Grid and in this way they can have alternate supply from Solar during grid outage. If average household load is taken as 2KW, the solar Hybrid system market opportunity comes out to be size of 52 GW. Third opportunity is replacement of Diesel pumps by Solar Pumps. If 10% of 1000,000 diesel pumps are converted into solar, energy of 2160 GWh can be saved per year and Rupee saving is about Rs.21.6 Billion per year. Fourth opportunity exists by replacing the conventional Hallogen and Sodium street Lights with solar LED street lights. Street Lighting consumes about 2% of total load which comes out to be about 440 MW. About 70% load can be put off from the grid if the conventional street lights each of 200W are replaced with 40W Solar LED street lights. This will reduce the Transmission losses of the power Utility. Fifth opportunity can be on-grid solar system at households with net metering facility. Sixth opportunity is on-grid solar system with net metering facility for commercial and industrial sites. Seventh opportunity is large industrial solar on-grid power plants and this can reduce the use of Grid and Diesel and Grid can also be eased out this way by 30% to 40%. Eighth opportunity is the captive solar power plants in Industries and commercial housing societies on PPA basis. Final opportunity can be for DISCOs to install a solar power system plants to hybrid with Grid stations to meet energy shortages.
We now try to understand what are challenges faced in Pakistan to exploit the above huge solar energy potential. Government departments lack the capacity in solar planning and development of innovative strategies. There are transparency and integrity issues in Government tenders also. Private sector is also yet not capable enough to provide large scale solar plant design, engineering and installations and EPC services. Local solar manufacturing Industry is yet at infancy stage.
There are no incentives to households from the government on deployment of solar system at home. There is no availability of bank financing at low mark up to the tune of 10%. There is no National and Provincial Solar Plans under which the solar deployments should be followed and regulated. There are no national solar PV standards for solar system right from import of solar equipment to installation and commissioning of solar equipment. There is no net metering policy by which a household or any business and Industrial entity can install solar system at roof top and sell extra electricity to the grid and this is one of the biggest barrier in growth of solar in Pakistan. The other challenge is the deficiency of trained solar work force for which there is need for national plan for creation of solar workforce in Pakistan. Government do not have any Certification system for Solar Certified Technicians. There are continuous barriers for solar business community right from import to installation of solar systems. Due to substantial procedural delays in Government offices, solar business community is upset and afraid to put investments in solar. Government imposed 32% duties and taxes on import for solar panels in its finance bill 2014-15 but took back this decision by the pressure of solar business community lead by PSA but 50% tax and duties on import of solar batteries and 45% on import of solar hybrid inverters still exists. This decision of duties and taxes on import of solar equipment has slowed down solar growth in Pakistan and there is need to restore zero duty regime for solar equipment for at least 10 years till the time local industry is ready to meet the quality and quantity demands of the country and International tenders.
FBR ( Federal Board of Revenue) has put a condition of getting commensuration letter from AEDB on import of solar equipment (Solar panels, solar batteries and solar inverters and charge controllers if ordered all together) and AEDB ( Alternate Energy Development Board) has developed a very complex procedure for issuance of commensuration letter and it takes long time to get issued this letter and this delay causes the importers to pay heavy demurrage and detentions and this process has discouraged the importers. Local solar Industry is not yet capable to meet quantitative and qualitative demands of solar market and there is need for enhancing the local capacities in terms of quality certifications and performance standards ( IES 61215, IES 61730, IEC 62124 and IEC 61724) for solar panels and there is also a need to provide incentives to local solar industry to enhance their competitiveness in competition with imported equipment.
Way forward is the establishment of 20 years National Solar Mission Plan having target of 20,000 MW on the pattern of Jawanlal Nehru Solar Mission Plan addressing all the issues of Solar Targets, Solar Policy for domestic, commercial and Industrial sectors, Zero duty Import, Incentives for local manufacturing, Low mark up loans, Microcredit scheme for rural community, incentives and subsidies, Net Metering and Grid connectivity codes, Solar Education and Solar skills development, Solar Lighting and capacity building of Government and Private sector.
[2] World Energy Outlook 2013
[3] Nepra 2012 report.
[4] ADB 2013 report
[5] SDPI Pakistan Energy Vision 2035
[6] REN21 Renewable 2014 Global Status report
[7] Solar Buzz 2014
[8] ( Lighting asia – Off-grid Lighting report)


Faiz Mohammad Bhutta has done B.SC engineering in Electrical from UET and has done MBA Marketing from IBA Punjab University. He has 34 years of experience of serving at technical and managerial posts in national and multinational companies such as ZELIN, SOPHA, INTECH, COMSATS, GRUNDFOS and IZHAR. Apart from his professional career, he has served as visiting teacher on engineering and management subjects in Air University, COMSATS University and UMT.

He has also contributed as PEC Task force member on Building Energy Code 2011. He has contributed as PEC task force member for Pakistan Electric and Telecommunication Safety code 214.
He is chairman of Pakistan Solar Association and Director of First Solar Institute in Pakistan.
He is member of International Solar Society Germany (ISES), Life member of PEC, Life Member of IEP, Life member of IEEEP, Member of HVACR Society, Member of PGBC, Member of MAP and member of ASHRAE USA.
He is a writer & Trainer also and his articles are published in Daily DAWN, Alterenergy Mag USA, EIR, HVACR Journal, TechnoBiz, Engineering Horizon, Business Mag etc.

He has attended lot of national and international EXPO and Conferences on Alternate Energy in China and Germany.


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Engineering Horizons

Engineering Horizons

“Engineering Horizons” is the first & leading technical magazine of Pakistan covering Process, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Mining, Electrical & Electronics field under a single cover. We also feel pleasure in saying that this is the only magazine of its own kind & style, which is widely circulated in all Engineering Sectors of Pakistan.

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As you know, monthly “Engineering Horizons” is the first & Leading Technical Magazine of Pakistan covering Process, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Mining, Electrical & Electronics fields under a single cover. We also feel pleasure in saying that this is the only magazine of its own kind & style, which is widely circulated in all Engineering Sectors of Pakistan.