Fuel stations in and around the city are now increasingly installing solar energy systems in order to ensure uninterrupted power supply to run their machines
By Haroon Akram Gill
Given the fact that the power outages are an unavoidable part of their life, those people who sold fossil fuels are now saving green energy to run their businesses. TNS learns that fuel stations in and around the city are now increasingly installing solar energy systems in order to ensure uninterrupted power supply to run their machines.
This is not only helping them to avoid the high tariff rates of electricity but is also a positive means to keeping the environment clean as they would no more be polluting it with heavy carbon emitted from diesel generators.
According to the Energy Department Punjab Government, Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) is facing a shortfall of 1000MW as against the demand of 2500MW. The result is 6-18 hours of load shedding in urban and rural areas, while most of the industry is running on 40-50% capacity.
Ahmad, the owner of a PSO petrol station in Tajpura, is quite satisfied with the solar system of 4.5KVA he installed some two years ago. His petrol station has six filling points, besides an ATM machine of a bank. He says the one-time investment of approximately Rs2m has saved him a lot of nuisance and trouble. “On an average, it saves me Rs100,000 monthly which would earlier be spent on the diesel consumed by the generator.
“Our machines are able to run from 9am till 10pm on solar energy and we need WAPDA only for a maximum of two hours. This is a source of great satisfaction to us, especially considering the huge saving it affords us at a time when the cost of commercial electricity has spiked.”
Ahmad is happy about the other savings regarding the human resource and the maintenance of generators because the solar system he has installed came with warranty and the only maintenance expenses he has to bear are related to the change of batteries which would happen once in four years.
On GT road, next to the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), the same company has another petrol station which boasts a 6KVA solar installation working all too successfully. There are other petrol stations at Ferozpur Road and Johar Town which are also installing the same. An official at Total’s Y-block DHA point says the company has now made solar installation mandatory for every petrol point in the city.
Moazziz Sohail, project manager of a company called JKS which deals in solar power installations, tells TNS that a good quality system of 6KVA costs approximately Rs1.4 million.
There is no license requirement for an installation lesser than 2MW.
According to Moazziz, the prices may be very high for domestic users but they are affordable for the corporate sector which is increasingly looking towards alternative energy.
However, he is quick to add that the “private sector cannot take the sole responsibility of this. The government must take necessary steps in this regard.”
Adil is a design engineer at Nizam Energy, a company dealing in solar systems. He says that the UET has installed a solar system of 36 KVA for their Computer Science department.
Adil also speaks of domestic users of the system in Lahore, “Presently, we have more than 70 clients in DHA alone.”
He claims that there are 15-20 different qualities of solar energy systems available in the market, their prices ranging between Rs50,000 per KVA to Rs250,000 per KVA. Though, a high-end system of 3 KVA can be purchased for Rs750,000, with 10 years of warranty.
Dry batteries are used for backup and need to be changed every four years, a single battery costing Rs60,000.
On the other hand, the Punjab government has a few plans up its sleeve. A solar plant of 10MW in Kasur, with private partnership, is in the works. Experts say there should be a hybrid system so that the energy produced through alternative resources may be entered into the system to help overcome the shortfall. This would also have a healthy impact on the environment and the role of the country to counter the global climate crisis.