Stop running after nuclear energy, solar and wind power is the solution for Pakistan!

Published: January 19, 2014

I believe that renewable energy provides for a much better solution for Pakistan’s energy crisis. We have ample supplies for wind and solar power, which we can use to tackle our energy crisis.

The efforts to attain nuclear power have increased globally in recent years. Several advocates in Pakistan, such as the recent article by Kazmi (Jan 7, 2014), have argued that nuclear power promotes economic development along with meeting the shortfall in energy supply.

A critical question I would like to ask is that, is nuclear power absolutely necessary for an economic development, given the potential safety risks and the vast amount of investment that it requires?

With Pakistan’s incredible potential of untapped renewable resources, why is Pakistan trying an untested nuclear technology when the rest of the world is moving towards greener energy solutions?

I feel that this is a preposterous idea.

Nuclear energy faces immense challenges, in terms of capital intensity and availability of supplies and technology. The growth rates implied by such advocates for the development of nuclear power suggest a realisation of targets, which very few countries have been able to achieve.

China is currently the only supplier of nuclear supplies to Pakistan but in order to meet projections, Pakistan would require access to advanced technologies from Western countries. These constraints raise questions about nuclear development, especially where our government is particularly prone to overestimating their ability to develop such resources and install generating capacity and underestimate costs.

In a recent news piece by Ilyas (Nov, 26 2013), it was argued that the recent nuclear power project is a step towards a load-shedding free Pakistan. Governments in the past (the current government included) have made several such promises that are merely hollow words, to gain popularity amongst the masses. These statements are backed by little or no scientific substantiation.

Load shedding is a problem not only due to the gap in supply and demand of energy but also due to deep-rooted and intrinsic issues such as corruption, bribery, subornment and nepotism. These problems cannot be tackled by a nuclear power project, where the stakes are very high and the prospect of exploitation and dishonesty inevitable – particularly by a government that has been accused of corruption twice in the past.

Very few countries have been able to achieve and maintain the level of nuclear energy growth as Pakistan is estimating. The United States and France had a growth rate of 7% and 14% respectively from 1980 to 1990s and India has only attained 4.9%.

All growth rates have since levelled off. 

In order for Pakistan to meet its own nuclear development estimates, it would have to emulate and surpass the efforts of countries like the United States and France. This idea seems highly unlikely and unrealistic to me.

Development of nuclear power requires long-lasting coordination between private and government sectors and a strong government effectiveness and control of corruption, since nuclear projects require large capital expenditures. Compared to countries like the United States, France and South Korea, that have developed nuclear power at impressive rates in the past, Pakistan cannot compare in government effectiveness and control of corruption.

I believe that renewable energy provides for a much better solution for Pakistan’s energy crisis. Pakistan receives an average of 2000 kilowatt-hour (kWh) per square metre of solar irradiation and eight to nine hours of sunlight a day. Just a quick look at the map of the global irradiation in Pakistan is enough to argue that we have the potential to meet the projected 40,000 megawatt (MW) demand in 2020.

Comparing this to a country like Germany, where 36.4% of energy was renewable in 2013 with peaks of 61% on certain days, and projected targets such as 80% average by 2050 has an average irradiation of ~1000 kWh per square metre.

This is, on average, half of what Pakistan receives.

Recent studies have shown that in the long run electricity generated from solar technologies can be cheaper than that from nuclear fuels. The potential for wind power is also very significant in Pakistan, with 50 gigawatt (GW) of generation capacity at the Gharo-Keti Bandar wind corridor, near Karachi and Hyderabad.

The primary concern over technologies such as solar has always been that they remain far too expensive and are not reliable. This is an ages old idea that has been stuck in the minds of the average layperson for decades. Wind power has led the way in becoming more economically viable and solar is following suit in the near term.

The primary problem for solar energy in developed countries has been grid integration. However, almost half of Pakistan is still off the grid. Pakistan can use Germany’s people-driven energy model and become self-sustainable with the involvement of local businesses. As for the mystery surrounding solar and wind power sheds, we can see that this change has already begun.

A local village, Narian Khorian, has installed 100 solar panels by the help of a local firm. Today, all houses in the village have sufficient energy to run an electrical fan and two light bulbs. An average solar panel lasts almost 25 years and has no maintenance costs associated with it. There is no downtime or risk of failures that may cause large-scale evacuations or other threats to life and/or property. This is the solution that Pakistan has been looking for: a change that is driven by the people on fundamental grass root level.

From a cost standpoint, the current cost estimate for the nuclear project is $ 9.59 billion. At a capacity of 1000 MW per plant, electricity would cost 5.7 cents/Watt assuming constant generation rate. Nuclear plants have significant down time due to maintenance that adds to the cost of operation and ultimately, to the cost for consumer.

On the other hand, wind power can provide 5.6 – 8.7 cents/Watt using technologies that are available today. There is no downtime and very low associated maintenance costs. I think, most importantly, there is no risk of failures that can cause catastrophic damage.

Due to the wind corridor in Sindh, the potential for wind power in Karachi is extremely high. A combination of wind and solar can easily meet and exceed the demands of this growing city. Solar/Wind power is no longer as expensive and unaffordable as it once was.

The predominant reason that solar power has been expensive in Pakistan is because all panels are primarily imported from other countries. I think that the cost of these panels can be significantly reduced if they were made in Pakistan. The basic raw material for silicon solar cells, quartz, can be found in abundance in the northern regions of Pakistan. Silica, the other main ingredient, can also be found in River Sindh, in inexhaustible quantities.

If an investment was made to get basic equipment to extract, this Pakistan can develop its own solar cells, given Pakistan’s labour source. I believe that this will not only stimulate the economy and provide jobs for the local population but will also help militancy issues that have plagued the northern areas. It’s a solution not only for Pakistan’s energy crisis but has the potential to significantly help the economy and stability of the nation.

Pakistan has proposed several renewable energy schemes that have always been left unattended. Examples of these include the proposed Thatta power plant and the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur. We need to inject funds into such projects and give local businesses more motivation to come into the energy sector.

tariff-based incentive, such as the one offered in countries like Germany and Belgium, can stimulate local investors into the renewable energy sector. Pakistan needs to skip the nuclear experiment that other countries have tried and failed at in the past.

For non-grid connected Pakistanis (which is almost half the population), the potential for solar/wind technologies is extremely high. There will be lower upfront cost and no reliance on the central government for investment in infrastructure requirements for transmission and distribution. Further there is a predictably lower fuel cost and solar/wind farms can often be built in stages with the first phases of installation becoming immediately productive.

Lastly, even if the funding of a certain project is constrained due to a change in government or other political factors, the already built solar/wind farms will remain productive whereas a fractionally built nuclear facility cannot produce anything.

It is time for our government and our business sector to work towards more reliable schemes of power energy, instead of building nuclear power plants.

Ahsan Ashraf

Ahsan Ashraf

A PhD candidate in Physics focusing on exploring nanoscale spatial inhomogeneities affecting the performance of organic and CIGS photovoltaic devices at the Sustainable Energy Technologies Division, Brookhaven National Lab, NY.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shahram Azhar

    Zabardast article. I would like to add that Green energy creates MORE jobs per dollar invested than other, traditional forms of energy. Look at the study of Robert Pollin on this.Recommend

  • Sami

    We should follow France in terms of Energy Independence. France is producing 75 percent of its energy needs from Nuclear Power and it is the only way forward. The countries like Pakistan cannot invest massive amounts to produce thousands of megawatts of energy from Alternative energies as they are an Expensive alternative. Nuclear energy is the only real Short and Medium Term Solution and only in the long run we can think to shift solely on Alternative energy.Recommend

  • Agnikul

    I would add biogas as a low cost and immediate alternative energy source for domestic use. Biogas production has environmentally friendly impacts like removing rubbish and manufacturing fertilizer and each village or mohalla sized unit can be sustained at low cost or in the case of livestock farms – negative cost. This fuel can be used for cooking, lighting, run engines or generate electricity.
    All the government needs to do is supply schematics and contractors credentials and details. Previous enterprises have failed because of the corruption and nepotism of government employees whose intervention should be minimized.Recommend

  • Asad Khan

    Stop wasting blog sphere until all the nuclear power plants in the world are closed and replaced by UN Mandated Renewable Solutions.

  • AYL
  • Omer Khayam

    both type of energy have it’s significance renewable is good solution for villages and areas with small population but you cant un industry from renewable energy for that you need to establish Nuclear and hydro power unitsRecommend

  • Shail Arora

    If cost is an issue for a large scale set up, this can be started small by introducing solar powered street/traffic lights on city roads and highways. I don’t have the exact data but am quite sure that savings in operational cost and maintenance would be quite substantial in the long run. It’s the same problem in India, government is running after nuclear deals, perhaps, just to appease US and west because most of the technology and fuel is to be procured from them.Recommend

  • Hassan S Hakeem

    For off grid consumers Solar is a very good option. However what about bulk production & storage of solar power for use at night.
    Figures about cost of Nuclear is totally wrong. Its $9 billion for 2200 MW & not 1000MW.Recommend

  • چھوٹا ڈریگن ®

    Ignorance has no cure, they say & who’s paying for the rather expensive solar cells as well as thousands of acres of land needed to install a substantial capacity. Solar is only viable in individual units for Pakistani homes, businesses and agricultural farmland.

    Same Generation III – AP/ACP-1000 nuclear reactors are being built all over the world, including in the ‘civilized world’, where no one seems to be making a fuss.

    This is shameful how a tabloid is exploiting the ignorance on this particular subject in Pakistan. We ought to go full steam ahead in 3rd generation nuclear power. Solar, Wind, Tidal, Thermal, Geothermal technologies are good for running agricultural farms and not countries.

    We ought to aim for up to 40 gigawatt nuclear energy from 3rd, 3+ and 4th generation reactors by 2040, including continuing research and development in unorthodox technologies like Thorium reactors & Cold Nuclear Fusion.

  • anon

    In context of poor countries like Pakistan, it does not matter how green a technology is, the most important thing is cost. Even with the dirtiest form of energy generation, per capita CO2/soot/etc emission of a Pakistani will be far less than any developed country. Pakistan should go for whatever form of electricity generation will be cheapest in the long run, unfortunately hydro is off the table due to political infighting, which leaves nuclear, coal and solar as the best sources. I don’t have much hope that Pakistan will be able to create its own solar industry but if it could it would not only solve the energy problem but has the potential of generating many jobs. Nevertheless in the next few years, solar panel prices will fall and they will become for most middle class people and if the government constantly kept failing in resolving energy issue than Pakistanis en mass will shift to solar to power their homes at least during day time. If there is some breakthrough in battery technology within next decade or so, it might become possible for middle class people to almost completely go off grid.

    I think everyone will agree that there is no point in expanding the grid, villages which still don’t have electricity, should not be connected to grid and use solar/wind for their electricity generation because overall cost of laying transmission infrastructure would make it more expensive in most cases and we already know what type of load-shedding they will face for at least next few years.Recommend

  • Imran Iqbal

    We shall not use nuclear energy because west is not happy on this and we are purchasing equipment from China?
    We shall have GOOD MIX of energy sources which shall have share of Water (The Cheapest Source), Solar, Wind and Nuclear energy. Nuclear at this point in time is the best possible option for Pakistan because we developed this technology our selves. Nuclear plant being deployed is approved by international agencies….. So No worries and enjoy power :)Recommend

  • IAbdussamad

    “A local village, Narian Khorian,
    has installed 100 solar panels by the help of a local firm. Today, all
    houses in the village have sufficient energy to run an electrical fan
    and two light bulbs. An average solar panel lasts almost 25 years and
    has no maintenance costs associated with it. There is no downtime or
    risk of failures that may cause large-scale evacuations or other threats
    to life and/or property.”

    I guess the author just googled and found that article. He didn’t bother to look at page 2 of that Dawn article where it states quite clearly that that project failed. Lack of maintenance means all those panels no longer work! This is typical of government projects.

    If we want to introduce solar energy the best way to do that would be to outsource it to the general population. A top down approach will not work. A bottom up approach might. Incentivize banks to lend to people who want to install solar panels on their roof tops. Create a system where homeowners can sell their excess electricity back to the national grid. Do some marketing to let people know about all of this. This last thing is important because people here are sheep and need to be nudged in the right direction. Do these things and watch it take off!Recommend

  • Hussain Haider

    Agree to what is written in comparison to nuclear and RE potential in Pakistan but more research is required on what is actually happening in country in REs. Gharo corridor is already generating 50 MW from wind invested by Fuji fertilizer and another 150-200MW is coming up soon. Quaid e Azam solar park is also very actively persuing solar generation and if i am not wrong tender for 100MW is already out. In addition, Punjab government already initiated a project to electrify off-grid areas with renewables.
    Another point i would like to add is in Pakistan few solar panel assemblers are already working for last many years-without creating manufacturing facility you can also bring down the installtion cost by adding scale, now solar cost/Kwh is already down to 12 cents for large projects in south and east asia. What all we need is good energy mix and cheap generation for affordable electricity.

  • Kanli

    Currently, nuclear energy provides more bang for the buck, that is provides more mega watts for the dollar so from a cost aspect it is better. Nuclear “fits” in better with the grid system. It takes up less space and is not as unsightly as wind farms. Yes, the waste is something to contend with and the uranium is not renewable. Solar and wind energy is better for the environment but is currently too costly to handle the mega watt needs especially the needs of industry. These forms of energy are well suited for smaller loads like offices and homes. In summary, “better” depends on what aspect of the energy you are wanting to compare. Define that firstRecommend

  • twister286

    Sorry, but these sources of energy are not even remotely going to address the issue of baseload shortage. Solar and wind energy produce miniscule amounts of energy per dollar of investment compared to the nuclear option, and are only used for supplementing the baseload generation, not for replacing it in most countries where they’re used.Recommend

  • Peacemaker

    Excellent argument.Recommend

  • Mobeen

    The emission of greenhouse gases has reduced to near half due to the popularity in the use of nuclear power. Nuclear energy by far has the lowest impact on the environment since it does not release any gases like carbon dioxide, methane, which are largely responsible for the greenhouse effect. There is no adverse effect on water, land or any habitats.Unlike renewable sources of energy like solar and wind that require sun or wind to produce electricity, nuclear energy can be produced from nuclear power plants even in rough weather conditions. They can produce power 24/7 and need to be shut down only for maintenance purposes.Production of nuclear energy needs very little amount of raw material. Only about 28 grams of uranium releases as much energy as produced from 100 metric tons of coal. Since it is required in small quantities, transportation of fuel is much easier than fossil fuels. Optimal utilisation of natural resources in production of energy should be a natural choice for any nation, especially the ones that are short on fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is not only environmentally friendly but also offers inexpensive long-term alternative to other sources of energy. This huge repository of energy carries immense potential to boost the socio-economic conditions of states that are struggling to give a fillip to their economy.Recommend

  • unbelievable

    Biggest “clean energy” saver available is obvious – make people pay for the energy they use – ain’t rocket science and doesn’t cost anything. When people have to pay for energy they conserve.Recommend

  • WhatTheFlux

    If you can run the world on wind and solar, more power to you, but thus far the numbers simply are not there. And, they can’t eliminate a single atom of our existing nuclear waste. Reactors can.

    Ivanpah Solar Farm, the largest and most advanced solar farm in the USA, Cost: $2.2 Billion – not including the cost of the land, which was “free” (Federal property.) Delivered Output: 101.79 MW (see below.) That comes to $21.61 per installed watt. Service Life (industry standard): 20 years.

    A Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), or a Small Modular Reactor (SMR), would be $2 an installed watt. Service Life: 60 years. They can be installed as 100MW reactors @ $200 Mill apiece, enabling a modest buy-in. Profits from the first reactor would finance the next one, etc.

    Ivanpah vs. MSR over 60 years period: $64.83/installed watt vs. $2/installed watt.

    The net service output of Ivanpah or any
    large solar farm is often overlooked. Using Ivanpah:

    Peak Output: 377MW (per their brochure). Actual Output (@30% capacity, industry standard): 113.1 MW. Delivered Output (due to 10% line loss over long-distance transmission:) 101.79 MW.

    MSRs and most SMRs can be installed literally wherever power is needed, anywhere on the planet, from Death Valley to Antarctica, so line loss is not a factor.

    MSRs can be refueled on the fly, and they provide full base-load power 24/7/365, so their operating capacity in well over 90%. And reactors have a 60-100 year life span. MSRs would use off-the-shelf plumbing parts, since they
    never operate under pressure. MSRs and SMRs would be factory-built and serviced, delivered by rail. A “nuclear battery.”

    Construction costs will be much lower than a large Light Water Reactor (LWR) plant, since much of the cost of an LWR is in the containment dome, the high-pressure
    plumbing, and the “safety in depth” redundant backup cooling systems – none of which are needed with SMRs and MSRs, which are fully self-contained.

    Containment domes are expensive because they are airtight structures that can hold all the steam that may escape from a damaged water-cooled LWR; water expands to 1,000 times its volume when it turns to

    The cost of nuclear plants has skyrocketed due to the protests and lawsuits that have delayed construction. And, they are custom-built on-site, rather than factory built like 747s.

    And, solar farms and sometimes nuke plants have been given tax incentives, etc. and subsidies. So cost calculations have to be done strictly as construction expenses and decommissioning for a fair comparison.

    We cannot afford to power the planet at $64 an installed watt. Or even a third of that.

    And last point: With global warming, wind patterns will shift. A large investment in wind would be utter folly.Recommend

  • Dar

    Nicely written; however:

    Global benchmarks for cost of generation from a particular source do not apply on ground in Pakistan – there are numerous other factors that come into play. Barring government level corruption, the lack of requisite infrastructure & manpower to support development of power generation facilities adds considerably to the cost.

    The cost for power generation through wind quoted in the article is no where near the lowest cost being offered in Pakistan for development of wind power projects (refer: Wind Upfront Tariff, 2013 published on NEPRA web-site) and that too is based on foreign source financing resulting in considerable escalation in costs due to continuing PKR devaluation [HIGHLIGHTED: This is still much much cheaper than what it costs to generate a unit of electricity through RFO / HSD fired thermal power plants – which is why the Government’s support for power generation through wind is commendable]. Power generation through solar has a long way to go – the annual energy yield does not justify the higher development cost. The cheapest untapped RE resource (available in abundance in Pakistan) is hydel with tariffs on ground ranging between US cents 6 – 11 / kWh (again based on foreign source financing). With hydel – be it foreign source financing – the added benefit is (1) achievement of a higher capacity factor (usually the case in projects that are either (a) run-of-the river or (b) require development of a dam & reservoir) and (2) greater design flexibility – peaking / non-peaking or base load plant [Point (1) and (2) are obviously intertwined and a variety of variables / requirements need to be considered for determining the design which consequently has a bearing on the capacity factor].

    [Since I’m not a grid specialist I won’t delve into the details of how weak the local grid system is; however, for everyone’s benefit it is suitable to highlight that RE sources require a “stable” grid – a grid having the ability to bear the sudden increase / decrease in power being generated by an RE plant. Non-availability of spinning reserves is what led to the blackout observed in Feb. 2013, non-base load RE sources can add to the in-stability of the grid which could possibly be countered if we had sufficient spinning reserves.]

    Given the Upfront Tariff for Bagasse / Co-gen, 2013 announced by NEPRA bagasse fired cogeneration facilities can also potentially alleviate the power sector woes especially given the fact that bagasse facilities would be active during winter months when power generation through hydropower sources decreases.

    The proposal to use RE technologies to provide electricity to villages that are currently off-grid is indeed a workable option however the government first needs to focus on providing electricity to industrial / manufacturing units so that they can help the economy develop into one where the government can take on tasks such as rural electrification.

    I’m sure everyone is aware of this but its still worth mentioning that the villages / towns currently off-grid are not the reason Pakistan is facing an energy shortfall (obviously, since they’re not even connected to the grid); a mix of issues being faced by the local power sector has resulted in the “acute” shortage of electricity witnessed in Pakistan (there are numerous very good articles outlining the “mix of issues” so I don’t think I need to mention them again here).

    Anyway – just my two cents. FYI – I’m an advisor specialising in local power sector projects. My portfolio comprises of local wind (multiple projects), solar (still on the drawing board), hydro (development stage) and bagasse power projects (development stage).Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Dear Author,

    I am a research Engineer in Energy sector in Germany. Solar and wind cannot become the backbone for a country like Pakistan.
    You either need Dams or Nuclear. Solar and wind can help you creating an hybrid system to make a relax the load on your network but a complete transformatin is not possible.
    Btw Germany is facing huge trouble after shutting down their nuclear plants…..
    According to the current technology its simply not possible to please stop misleading people through theoretical knowledge


  • Realist

    Mr. Ahsan can you tell me the efficiency of solar energy? Also tell me do you ever considered the draw backs of wind energy and what negative effect it creates on wind currents? I thought you are doing Ph.d in alternate energy.Recommend

  • logicwins

    “why is Pakistan trying an untested nuclear technology when the rest of the world is moving towards greener energy solutions?”

    Very simple. The Establishment wants more nuclear plants and technology not for producing energy, but to build more and better nuclear bombs. The energy argument is a red herring.Recommend

  • stevenson

    If the majority of developed countries still derive their energy from nuclear power what makes you think that a developing country like Pakistan can afford to invest in more costlier alternative energy which has not proved successful even in Green friendly Germany? Wake up and see the reality. After so many years of dithering Nawaz Sharif is doing what Musharraf and Zardari failed to do in the last 15 years which is create much needed electricity which Pakistan desperately needs.Recommend

  • hur

    a pessimistic approach…to excel in every field should be our moto dear…
    Taking things “”Un-realistic”” hurts :)Recommend

  • MaJic Man

    Germany also has one of the highest electricity rates as compared to the rest of Europe. Wind and solar doesn’t make sense for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dipak

    I have always campaigned for the use of the tremendous natural resources available in Pakistan to generate almost 90,000 MW of additional electricity. The hydroelectric, solar and wind power can permanently eliminate load shedding and promote an industrial revolution for the prosperity of the people of Pakistan. The Chinese nuclear power plants is not a viable solution. China has never built ACP 1000 power plant in their own ccountry but is willing to build in Pakistan on trial and error basis. This could take another 25 years before a single MW of nuclear electricity is generated. China for their part is building four AP1000 US Westinghouse power plants, not their own. Imagine all that green power that can be generated in 25 years. Pakistan should be selling electricity to the neighboring countries. Best wishes.Recommend

  • Eshel Dapez

    Agreed that there are alternatives to nuclear energy and Pakistan should carve out other renewable sources of energy. Just look into the background, fossil fuels are the primary source of energy and than simultaneously comes the environmental question. Today, the biggest source of energy constitutes oil and gas. But the depletion of these sources alarmed the nations. From this point the nuclear energy comes in. The very reason is this that it can provide a sustainable source of energy which efficiently meet the increased energy needs. The central point is this that there is speedy increase in energy needs and nuclear has this capability to meet them. Question to nuclear energy in Pakistan is not a thing which really needs to be discussed with pessimistic manner. Its a nuclear weapon state more than a decade and not a new one with nuclear voyage. There is an ongoing development which is widely been questioned out of no reason. Just look at the globe, one will find lots of nuclear power plants all over so why only question to Pakistan?Recommend

  • Rabia

    The arguments against nuclear power for safety reason are irrational. In contrast, construction and maintenance workers have fallen to their death from wind generator towers making wind far more dangerous than a nuclear power plant. There have also been causalities in relationship to both solar voltaic installations and concentrated solar energy facilities. Despite this evidence, some claim that nuclear power is more dangerous. When asked to explain this claim, they say that accidents will happen because we are human and human beings always make mistakes, however there is one way to avoid human mistakes leading to serious nuclear accidents. That is to take human judgment out of the equation.Recommend

  • Sara Khan

    Many states are dependent upon nuclear power plant for the generation of electricity. Countries such as France produce approximately 90 percent of their electricity from nuclear power and lead the world in nuclear power generating technology – proving that nuclear power is an economic alternative to fossil fuel power stations. this type of power is environmentally friendly and clean. In a world that faces global warming they suggest that increasing the use of nuclear power is the only way of protecting the environment and preventing catastrophic climate change. States such as USA and UK are dependent highly upon nuclear power plants.Then Why not Pakistan go for nuclear power plants?Recommend

  • usman

    Why are so many people enthralled
    of creating fear and misperception for nuclear energy? Do they really believe
    that life without continuous energy supplies is wonderfully utopian as wind and
    solar energy sources are not reliable for Pakistan to meet its energy needs? This
    is an area where I often part with other energy observers; building large scale
    wind and solar power systems is inherently a bad idea. It is not because the
    systems do not scale well; it is because they depend on diffuse, highly
    variable energy flows that cannot be controlled by humans or human-designed
    control systems. With solar & wind you are only transmitting a highly
    peaked power for an average of a few hours per day, so it is not economical to
    reduce line loss to a minimum by adding a lot of aluminum.Recommend

  • Zoyal

    This is a debate
    which should be started at that time when Pakistan was seriously in trouble due
    to energy crisis. Everything was at closed end and whole world witnessed very quietly
    the economic deterioration and unrest in Pakistan. The utmost priority of the
    new government in Pakistan is to get rid of this energy crisis as soon as
    possible. The concrete initiative has been taken to go for nuclear energy as it
    has potential enough to meet the increased energy demand. The building up of
    nuclear power plants is going to be done with Chinese cooperation. Hopes are
    high that these new additions will make Pakistan sufficient in energy needs and
    give boost to economy. But since the inception of new plants a big wave of
    criticism comes up. The simple question to all that have they devised or
    suggested any mechanism of energy crisis before the Chinese support? The answer
    is NO. Now the things are going to be in shape soon, these groundless opposition
    only created disparities nothing else. This is not a new adventure to generate
    energy from nuclear, clearly mentioned even in NPT that signatory members are
    going to be supported for civilian nuclear energy usage. Although Pakistan is
    not a member of NPT but it has built up its extensive nuclear set up on
    concrete grounds. No one is more concerned about Pakistan than its own people
    as the statehood represents them.Recommend

  • Naseem Ahmed

    While I am in favor of solar and wind energy development but for all practical purposes, these cannot be presented as panacea for all our energy troubles. first, the blogger’s quoted solar radiation of 2000 kWh/sqm somewhat misleading. it is average annual sum of radiation i.e. average radiation added for an entire year. The daily average solar radiation in Pakistan is 5.5kWh/sqm which translates into 5.5 peak sun hours/day for solar irradiance of 1kW/sqm. all pv panels are designed to deliver maximum power on solar irradiance of 1kW/sqm. well, lets not get into too much of technicalities.

    Solar power due to its dependency on sun is not available 24 hrs a day, unreliable, unpredictable, dependent on weather conditions and expensive. Same goes for wind power which is dependent on wind except for it is available 24 hrs. The kind of energy shortages we are facing in Pakistan, it cannot be overcome by solar or wind alone. there should be a mix of conventional, nuclear and renewable energy sources to have stable, reliable and affordable energy supply.Recommend

  • Shah

    Its not only the cost, its the Physics.
    1)You need to transfer energy with High Power to achieve higher distance. Wind and Solar lack that opportunity, as the power generated is not tht high and in the same “Rhythm” which causes issues in the network.
    2)You cannot have offshore wind plants in Pakistan because in Monsoon they will become unreachable. Wind plants cannot be installed inside the city as the required wind speed in usually not achieved which is btw 5-20 m/s. At higher or lower speed wind turbines don’t work. Secondly cost of offshore wind mills have huge issue of maintenance.
    3)Solar has a problem due to huge cost of its solar cell which need to be replaced after some time. Efficiency of a solar panels are less than 10% -15% practically.

    Yes Wind and Solar can be implemented on small scale to achieve an Hybrid system and relax your load. But tht wont full fill you energy demands. You need some thing big for it. May be in the next 20 years you achieve more sophistication in these technologies but the current technology does not give you tht option. Therefore you need to opt for Dams, Nuclear or import. SIMPLE!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Ahsan Ashraf

    Thank you for your comment. My point here is simply that an equivalent effort needs to be made in other renewables given Pakistan’s incredible potential. The solution will eventually be a hybrid of several different sources of energy.Recommend

  • Ahsan Ashraf

    Thank you for your comment. This is definitely another good source of energy with incredible potential.Recommend

  • Ahsan Ashraf

    Thank you for your comment. Here is a link to the best solar cell efficiencies:

    In terms of negative effects of wind turbines, there have been reports of increased avian mortality rates and some changes in local weather conditions.Recommend

  • Ahsan Ashraf

    Thank you for your comment. I completely agree that the eventual solution would be a combination of different sources of energy. My argument here is simply that an equivalent push needs to be made towards other renewables.Recommend

  • Mahnoor

    True. That is what Zahir Kazmi also said in the article that the potential Doctor sahib has based his blog on. The requirement of energy is so dire that all sources of energy are welcome – including solar and nuclearRecommend

  • Shakir

    True. Energy mix is the solution. Can’t rely on single sourceRecommend

  • M Saqib

    @disqus_Yu7kPo0uv3:disqus You are right. On nuclear waste management, it would be interesting to note that the total spent fuel waste from Pakistan’s nuclear power plants is almost the size of squash court. Dry waste disposal repositories should be selected for safe and permanent storage.
    In Pakistan’s context, nuclear provides a healthy breather in the energy mixRecommend

  • Absar Naqvi

    @twister286:disqus Absolutely correct. The pseudo doctor has no idea about the base load issue. He is studying in the U.S., should step out of campus and smell the morning coffee. In this context, it would be instructive to see the fate of renewables in western countries – especially the U.S. and Germany. I hope the gentleman gets his doctorate rightRecommend

  • Adeel Yousaf

    Exactly. I am amazed why Ahsan has chosen to lock horns with the arguments presented in the article he quotes
    I have read both twice and find that Ahsan’s arguments are on thin ice.
    Relying on a single source – especially solar or wind – is delusional.Recommend

  • Fahad


    I believe that Solar and wind still need more advancements in order to be considered feasible. Nuclear is the way to go, for fast relief.Recommend

  • Ceedat

    Good points and well presented.

    Not sure if you are aware of this already. Eight 19 has done extensive work on developing solar technology for off-grid applications.


  • Satti

    Do you the cost of Wind and Solar maintenance on an Industrial scale?
    Ask some one who works at E.on , the largest IPP in the world !!!!Recommend

  • Faraz Abbass

    @Ahsan Ashraf
    Pardon me to be as direct as you were but I think your idea is a bit preposterous. What was the motivation for writing this article? Was it on encouragement of a muse or is renewable energy your PhD thesis?
    There is 25,000 MWe wind power potential in Gharo and Jhimpir in Sindh but these
    projects will attract financing probably after the government has upgraded the transmission network in the area.
    I wonder if you have ever checked the cost vs. output ratio of solar power in Pakistan? That can never outpace hydro- and nuclear power generation in Pakistan or any other country. Let’s stop fantasizing and misleading readers and be intellectually honest.
    I invite you to study the fate of renewables in the U.S. and Germany. It will be easier for you to make empirically correct assertions since you are based in America. Germany has eschewed nuclear power plants but it is buying electricity generated in France from N power! Likewise, it has partnered with Russia and will use gas to warm German households. My sense is that the geopolitical cost of giving up indigenous nuclear energy production will be higher than relying on renewables or borrowed energy. The time will tell. Recall how Russians turned Ukrainian and European gas off and arm-twisted both.
    Your first Q about nuclear power’s necessity for economic growth is simple to answer. Again read the comments on Zahir Kazmi’s article that you have referred. One commentator has hit the nail on its head: “Energy security has become a widely pronounced phenomenon at present. Economy is the backbone for the prosperous country and energy is essential to run the economy. Pakistan’s economy suffers very badly due to energy pitfall. It is in need to carve out new zones of energy sources. No other state than China comes forward to support Pakistan to get rid of this energy crisis. The whole world is enjoying with the benefits of nuclear energy so there should be no strangeness in the Pakistani case also…”
    I agree with you assertion that China is currently the only supplier of nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Others are welcome too. You are in the U.S., why don’t you lobby for your country and win Westinghouse and GE to sell few reactors to Pakistan? There is a caveat though – the U.S. is not a reliable supplier of technology and may not be able to sell reactors. South Korea may ultimately emerge as Chinese competitor.
    You have correctly identified corruption as one of the woes in electrical power generation in Pakistan. You would be happy to know that PAEC has zero tolerance for corruption and is the most efficient and reliable producer in Pakistan! Do you think wind and solar power development will rid us of corruption? Let’s try that.
    Pakistan’s dilemma is that despite affordable nuclear energy, there shall come a time when other sources may become either financially or politically unaffordable. A sensible formula designed for preserving a mix of resources can resolve the energy
    security dilemma of Pakistan.
    The cost of fuel based generation or fuel alternatives and indigenization is pretty
    high, nuclear energy clearly meets these challenges. Let’s not waste our energies on non-issues….Recommend

  • Master

    The Chinese plants are not untested technology. In fact the plants have enhanced safety features. Your argument is a bit absurd. Whenever a new technology comes into market, there is always first buyer!!! Did someone raise this argument when the U.S. installed its first nuclear power plant, or France did etc? Why a fuss about Pakistan??
    The plants for electricity production come under IAEA safeguards and there is no way that any state makes bombs out of that fuel.
    You are probably referring to India…Its eight plants are not under safeguards and they can divert the fuel for bomb-making – like they did for making their first nuclear bomb.Recommend

  • Minor

    @Deepak. Please lecture Indians on “the use of the tremendous natural resources”. They are otherwise stealing our water….Recommend

  • Ravistichagan

    Most renewable technologies share some common techno-economic characteristics, such as their intermittent nature, large fixed capital costs etc. technological expenditure of renewable energy plants is very high. It will be again a major issue. Pakistan does not have major financial incentives available for those who want to install wind turbines or solar panels.Recommend

  • Shail Arora

    Perhaps, I have limited knowledge on this subject, so can not go into the details. But just one quick point regarding the distribution. I believe the current distribution mechanism from conventional energy sources is not efficient as well and there are huge transmission losses.Recommend

  • Shail Arora

    I doubt if fear is the cause of this debate. It’s search for a sustainable form of energy, which drives the point home. Nuclear fuel, whether Uranium or something similar is limited too, unless there is a technology to harness Thorium, which is found in abundance, as someone has already pointed above.Recommend

  • Satti

    Dear Author,

    Potential is one thing and demand is one thing. This is not time to conduct experiments. Solar and Wind ONLY cannot fulfill Pakistan’s demandRecommend

  • Ahsan Ashraf

    Thank you for your comment. Renewables should be able to provide/complement baseload power if used effectively. Please see the following report:

    Also, it has recently been shown that German baseload is cheaper than French which relies heavily on nuclear:

  • Salim Mastan

    Jatropha biodiesel is another way to go, no foreign investment
    Pl seethe YouTube vedios
    It runs generators, power plants , it can run trains, it can also replace diesel in a Mercedes Benz, and. Can be used as furnace oil,
    It can run a tube well, it can run a Tank, it is a replacement of diesel oil,
    A area of 40×40 mikes can employ 817,000 people
    It produces 2 to 4 Billion liters of oil,
    At $1 per liter it is $2 to$4billion

    Salim mastan Recommend

  • Asad

    Just a humble question … how much did you get paid for the article? I won’t sell out my country’s future for less than 5000$.Recommend

  • Paulbee

    The author should enquire as to why Germany’s electrical power rates are so high, and why they have to burn somuch coal in spite of their Renewables.Recommend

  • JustAsking

    First, the clergy should verify that the solar energy is halal.Recommend

  • thinktank

    nuclear power is cheaper in the long run but solar and wind power cost a fortune 35000 rs for a 15 watt cell itnay mein to energy saver bhe nahe chaltaRecommend

  • Waqas Ahmed

    See this wikipedia link

    it has given the statistics of us energy information administration, of U.S. department of energy.
    It shows solar is very expensive. wind is cheap but it has very low capacity factor. nuclear has very high initial cost but much of it is being provided by china. pakistan at this stage needs huge power generation capacity to be introduced which becomes its base load and its cheap, nuclear fulfuls all these requirements.

    Waqas AhmedRecommend

  • mujtaba

    Excellent idea i think. But the way the writer is suggesting private business sector to incorporate seems quite easier said than done and far fetched idea to me at the moment, given the state of ferment in Pakistan, investor are hard to convince to invest in a (seemingly) sinking boat. Your thought?Recommend

  • asali

    is it possible to generate the electricity for the people in Pakistan according to the resources they have , like in Sindh through solar panels, in Baluchistan wind power and in northern areas through hydro power and wind energy , it may be cost efficient and in my point of view the way of employementRecommend

  • Umair Malik

    Thanks Ahsan Ashraf.Its very nice and Helpful Article. But In Pakistan have crises everywhere.Mostly Pakistani Villages and Urban Area have no more electricity in Govt of Pakistan should gave Solar Systems for that Peoples that’s why every person want Solar Systems in PakistanSo please tell us whats should we do and what should Govt Do ?Recommend

  • Qasim Hassan

    Dear Ahsan Ashraf
    Good to see such an informative article on alternative energy source that is unconventional and has low running cost. Switching from conventional electricity generation like thermal to nuclear is a lucrative solution to the current energy crisis but the keeping in view the hazardous effects of nuclear there must be a more reliable, eco-friendly and economical solution that can best serve the current requirements. So the renewable sources like Wind and Solar can be proved handy in such moment of crises. In Pakistan many companies are providing solar solutions that are easy to install, cost effective and can serve as the base of micro grids in Pakistan in the near future so that there in less reliability on enervation plants that are governed by the government. Recommend

  • Reon Energy

    Although, it’s an old article but the situation in Pakistan hasn’t changed yet. We’re running out of energy despite having the capacity to build dams and generate electricity. Moreover, the usage is also limited due to which we’re not able to meet the demand. Hence, it is imperative to take steps to curb the shortfall of electricity by making more dams and install solar energy panels.Recommend