Welcome to the most comprehensive guide on Solar Energy in Pakistan. This is the first of a series of articles and resources on solar systems that loadshedding.pk/ will be bringing to you over the coming months. This guide has been updated to cater to the needs of existing and prospective home owners who’re looking to install solar energy systems in Pakistan. This detailed article provides answers to common questions such as:
- How much solar systems cost in Pakistan?
- How to effectively install a solar energy system for your home in Pakistan?
- What brands of panels and inverters to use?
Frequent load shedding, high electricity bills, power blackouts and never ending UPS battery issues! All of these probably sound familiar to an average Pakistani. In the past few years, one viable alternative to counter power and energy problems has emerged in the form of solar panels. While still not very common, solar panels are increasingly becoming popular across the country, both in urban areas and in rural regions which have access to very little or no electricity at all.
The switch towards using solar panels is due to the dramatic decrease in the prices of photovoltaic equipment and the global drive towards clean and alternative energy. As I write this article, a Swiss paneled aircraft is attempting the first fuel-free solar flight around the world. Though research and development on solar panels has been going on for several decades, a worldwide awareness of the environmental hazards of fossil fuels and their finite nature grew in the last 30 years, partly as a result of the oil crisis of the 70’s.Currently the 3rd generation of solar panels are being produced which cost much less and are much more malleable than the 1st and second generation panels.
With a population of about 180 million and a growing economy, Pakistan has extremely high energy needs. As a net energy importer, facing serious energy shortages, Pakistan needs to move to a sustained transition towards renewable energy using its plentiful indigenous resources. In recent years, governments have been promoting renewable energy to reduce the country’s dependence on any single source to help mitigate against supply disruptions and price fluctuations, create jobs and reduce social inequality and green house emissions. Pakistan has also pledged action under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to the Alternative Energy Board, Pakistan receives solar irradiation of about 2MWh/m2 and 3000 hours of sunshine a year, which is at the highest end of solar insulation averages. A number of projects at the macro level across the country are underway like the Quaid-e-Azam solar park in Bahawalpur, which will be completed later this year, covers an area equivalent to 500 soccer fields and will generate 1000MW of electricity.
While large scale solar solutions can cost millions of rupees, solar panels for residential and domestic use are cost effective and readily available in the market. This article will explore the types and prices of solar panels that are available in Pakistan and also describe how a solar system works.
Solar panels use the sun as a source of energy. However this energy can only be converted to power and electricity through a solar system that is made up of different elements that work together to produce electricity. These elements include a solar panel, inverter, and a battery. Each of these elements comes in different sizes which impact the performance of the solar system. Figure 1 shows how solar systems work.
What is a Solar Panel?
A solar panel is the main part of the solar system. It absorbs the sun’s rays and converts it to electricity. This is done through photovoltaic cells, which are hundreds of semiconductors combined to form a circuit. When the light shines on the cells, they convert it into DC current. When there is no more light, the cells stop producing electricity. The photovoltaic cells are housed in a rigid frame that is strong enough to withstand environmental roughness. The frame is covered by a glass to protect the cells from rain, strong winds or extreme temperatures and a built-in drainage hole in the glass to drain out any moisture or water that might have build up. The solar panels are either monocrystalline panels or polycrystalline panels. Monocrystalline panels are black in color, have no edges, and are slightly smaller in size than polycrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels are dark blue in color, and generate more electricity than monocrystalline panels. Figure 2 shows how solar cells work.
A residential solar panel measures 65 inches by 39 inches (L x W), while a commercial solar panel is usually 77 inches by 39 inches in width. The depth of both is 1.8 inches. The residential panel is made up of 60 photovoltaic cells, while a commercial panel can have anywhere from 72 to 96 photovoltaic cells. Since households consume relatively less electricity than commercial ventures or organizations hence they need only one solar panel to provide the required electricity. Whereas businesses and organizations consume more electricity therefore they need more panels. They also have more space and area to house solar panels which makes it easier to install 5 or 10 solar panels to fulfill their electricity requirements. A solar panel can generate anywhere from 50 W to 270W depending on how bright the sun is. This equates to almost 10kWh daily and about 38kWh energy per month. The amount of electricity consumed depends on the usage. A typical house consumes anywhere from 300 to 900kWh per month. Table 1 below shows the average daily electricity consumption of household items.
|Appliance||Estimated Daily Usage (Watts)|
|Electric Clothes Dryer||3,400|
|Water Pump (Boar) 1/3-1HP||1,200|
|40W Energy Saver (left on for 6 hours)||11|
|20 cu.Ft. Fridge||1,410|
|15 cu. Ft. Fridge||1,200|
The amount of electricity consumed depends on how many items are used. Most of the high energy consumption appliances are used in summers like Air conditioners and refrigerators, and with longer summer days, the solar panels are able to produce more electricity to meet the demands.
Types of Solar Panels Available in Pakistan
The solar panels installed in Pakistan are imported from Canada, Germany, China, and USA. Below are some of the most popular brand names that are available in the market.
Canadian Solar: is manufactured in Ontario, Canada and is the most popular solar panel used in Pakistan. It operates in 18 countries worldwide, and is the third largest solar company worldwide. Canadian Solar manufactures 7 different kinds of solar panels. The smallest of the solar panel is made of 50 cells, and the largest has 72 cells. These are further divided into monocrystalline panels or polycrystalline panels. Canadian Solar also manufactures a glass-glass module which incorporates a 2 glass cover and is ideal for installation near oceans or rivers.
Lorentz: is a German based company and manufactures its panels in Germany and China. Lorentz produces LC series solar panels. There are 5 different sizes, with 36 cells the smallest and 72 cells the largest. All the panels have monocrystalline or polycrystalline option except the 60 cell panel. These solar panels have aluminum frames and three layer back sheet for cells protection.
Yingli: solar panels are manufactured in Baoding, China. Yingli Solar operates in 30 countries worldwide, and is the largest solar company worldwide. Yingli Solar manufactures the YGE and PANDA solar panels for residences and commercial usage. The smallest panel has 48 cells, and the largest 72 cells. All the panels have monocrystalline or polycrystalline option except the 72 cell panel. These panels are highly efficient because they minimize power loss.
LDK: solar panels are manufactured in Jiangxi, China.LDK Solar manufactures about 8 solar panels offering only 60 or 72 cells solar panels. All the panels have monocrystalline or polycrystalline option. These panels perform well in low light conditions.
Best Options for Inverters Available in the Market
Household electrical appliances work on AC current, and not DC current, therefore an inverter is connected to the solar panel to convert the produced DC current into AC current. Inverters have different power ratings ranging from 1kVA to 10kVA. The higher the rating, the more electricity will be produced. Table 2 shows the different types of inverters available in the market:
|#||Types of Inverter||Features|
|1||Modified Sine Wave Power||
|2||True Sine Wave Power||
|5||Dual Inverter System||
Most inverters in Pakistan are mainly imported mainly from Taiwan and a few from the United States as well. Below are some of the most popular ones:
Voltronic inverters are manufactured in Taiwan by Voltronic Power Technology Corp. They have been manufacturing inverters for over 20 years, and are the most popular inverters used in Pakistan solar systems. The company manufactures 12 different inverters including the Atom, Mighty, Axpert, PowerAVR, Scudo, Shieldo, Defendo, and Aegis series. The Axpert series inverters are imported to Pakistan. This series contains five different inverters which have a power rating from 700VA to 5kVA.
Outback panels are manufactured by Outback Power in Arlington, Washington state, USA. It manufactures the Radian series, Off-grid series, and grid hybrid series. The grid hybrid series is the top of the line inverter series offering 91% greater power saving and return in short period of time.
Morning Star inverters are manufactured in Pennsylvania, USA. They have been supplying inverters to 112 countries worldwide and their products are considered to be very advanced and of the highest quality. It manufactures the SureSine series inverters that offer 92% power saving and can handle 200% power surge.
Types of Batteries for Solar Systems
Table 3 below gives details about the different types of batteries available for use in the solar system:
|#||Types of Batteries||Features|
|1||Flooded lead acid||
|4||Absorbed Glass Matt||
Commonly Available Battery Brands
The batteries used in the solar systems in Pakistan are both local and imported. Details of the imported ones are as follows:
Narada: batteries are manufactured in Hangzhou, China. Narada operates in Asia, Europe, USA, and Latin America. They are one of the most popular import brands in Pakistan and produce 18 different series of batteries. Each series falls into three categories, AGM battery, new type gel battery, and traditional gel batteries.
Sacred Sun: batteries are manufactured in Shenzhen, China by Shandong Sacred Sun Power Sources Company. It has sale offices in 50 different countries and produces 15 different series of batteries with 6 of the series specially manufactured for solar systems.
Prices and Configurations of Traditional Available Solar Systems
There are quite a few solar system configurations available in the market. Most of them are configured for industries, with only a few options for residences. Table 4 shows details of some of the traditional configurations available in Pakistan. All prices are in PKR.
|#||Watts||Electrical Appliances Supported||Solar Panel Cost||Hybrid Inverter Cost (5KVA)||Battery Cost||Installation + cabling cost||Solar panel stand||Estimated Total Cost|
|1||300||1 fan, 2 energy savers||34,5005||85,000||36,000||52,000||7000||214,500|
|2||600||2 fans,2 energy savers and 1 LCD TV||69,000||85,000||36,000||52,000||7000||249,000|
|3||750||3 fans, 4 energy savers and 1 LCD TV||86,250||85,000||72,000||52,000||7000||302,250|
|4||1,000||3 fans,4 energy savers , 1 LCD TV and 1 0.75 HP water pump||115,000||85,000||144,000||52,000||7,000||403,000|
|5||1,500||5 fans,10 energy savers, 2 LCD TVs, 1 laptop and 1 1.5 HP water pump||172,500||85,000||144,000||52,000||7,000||460,500|
|6||2,000||6 fans, 10 energy savers,2 LCD TVs,2 laptops,1 1.5 HP water pump and 1 water dispenser||230,000||85,000||144,000||52,000||7,000||460,500|
|7||2,500||5 fans, 12 energy saver lights, 2 LCD TVs, 2 laptops, and 1 refrigerator/freezer.||287,000||85,000||144,000||52,000||7,000||575,500|
|8||3,000||5 fans, 12 energy saver lights, 2 LCD TVs, 2 laptops, 1 refrigerator/freezer, and 1 1.5ton AC for 6 hours.||345,000||85,000||144,000||52,000||7,000||633,000|
|9||4,000||7 fans, 15 energy saver lights, 3 LCD TVs, 2 laptops, 1 refrigerator/freezer, and 1 1ton AC for 12 hours||460,000||85,000||288,000||52,000||7,000||892,000|
|5,000||8 fans, 20 energy saver lights, 3 LCD TVs, 2 laptops, 1 refrigerator/freezer, and 1 1.5ton AC for 12 hours||575,000||85,000||288,000||52,000||7,000||1,007,000|
Prices and Configurations of Non-traditional Available Solar Systems
Nontraditional solar systems utilize your existing UPS. They include a solar panel, charge controller, existing UPS batter, and the existing UPS. Instead of the inverter, the charge controller is used. This system is available in 4 configurations as follows.
700VA UPS system: It supports 2 fans and 2 energy savers. It uses a 300W solar panel, 20A charge controller, and its cost including installation and equipment is Rs 49,000.
1kVA UPS system: It supports 3 fans and 3 energy savers. It uses a 500W solar panel, 30A charge controller, and its cost including installation and equipment is Rs 89,000.
2kVA UPS system: It supports 5 fans, 5 energy savers, and 1 LCD TV. It uses a 1000W solar panel, 60A charge controller, and its cost including installation and equipment is Rs 168,000.
3kVA UPS system: It supports 6 fans, 10 energy savers, and 1 LCD TV. It uses a 1600W solar panel, 60A charge controller, and its cost including installation and equipment is Rs 249,000.
These configurations are cheaper than a regular solar system because they require less equipment. Since the UPS is already set up and won’t require much cabling, the only expensive item is the solar panel.
Regardless of the solar system you choose, it’ll take about a week for it to be installed in your house. The solar panels have either 10 or 25 years of warranty, depending on which brand you choose. The inverter has a year warranty, and the battery has 6 months warranty. Once the system has been installed, the estimated payback time on the investment is almost 2-3 years.