With the first phase of a 1 gigawatt (GW) solar PV park recently connected to the national grid of Pakistan, 100 MW of solar power capacity is now supplying the country with clean electricity. Not content to sit back and relax, phase two of Pakistan’s enterprising solar park is now underway.
Established and owned by the government of Punjab, Pakistan, the 1 GW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park is located on 2,630 hectares (6,500 acres) of desert and is being run by private firm Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Company (QA Solar).
Phase One Is Up & Running
Announced recently, the first 100 MW phase of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park has been connected to the grid in the state of Punjab, Pakistan. The pilot project of the 1 GW Solar Park located near Bahawalpur was officially inaugurated on April 20, 2015, in a ceremony attended by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Now the 100 MW solar power plant is officially up and running, supplying critically needed solar energy to the Muslim nation.
The completion of the QA Solar Park Phase 1 comes just weeks after the installation of a Yingli 1 MW solar PV array on the rooftop of Pakistan’s Parliament House, fully funded by the government of China.
Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Solar PV Park
With a reported cost of Pakistan Rs 15 billion ($23.7 million), 6,500 acres of land is dedicated to the 1 GW Quaid-e-Azam Solar PV park. Tasked with generating renewable energy, especially solar power, QA Solar has installed the initial 100 MW pilot plant on 500 acres.
With the new pilot plant now exporting electricity to the national grid of Pakistan, QA Solar launched its second phase of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar PV park. China-based TBEA SunOasis will provide the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) for the second phase, as well as the operation and maintenance (O&M) for the project.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif recently attended the official launch of Phase Two, which will account for another 300 MW to be installed by the end of 2015. An additional 600 MW is scheduled to be installed by the end of 2016. This will bring the total installation of solar projects at Pakistan’s QA Solar Park to 1 GW by the end of 2016.
The Favorable Solar Environment of Pakistan
Perfect for solar development, Pakistan enjoys up to 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. Combined with favorable legislative policies, the government is focusing its efforts on encouraging private sector investment in renewables, including:
• Tax and custom duty exemptions
• Approval of grid-connected solar energy
• A new national net metering program
• A funding scheme for homeowners to borrow against their mortgage for solar installations
Facing a 6 GW power shortfall, Pakistan is encouraging development in renewable energy projects, including in the hydro, wind, and solar power sectors. Described as the most investment-friendly nation in South Asia, in 2013, the Pakistan Government introduced new investment policies aimed at strengthening trade relations by streamlining administrative processes, and reducing business costs.
Picture Credits: Top — A drone image of the 100 MW PV plant. Bottom — China’s Xi Jinping and Pakistan’s Sharif.