Feasibility of a solar thermal power plant in Pakistan
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by I Ullah, Mohammad RasulMohammad Rasul, A Sohail, M Islam, M Ibrar
Pakistan has been facing an unprecedented energy crisis since the last few years. The problem becomes more severe throughout the year. The current energy shortage crisis has badly hit Pakistan’s economy where hundreds of industries have closed due to lack of electricity to fulfil their requirements. The energy supply and demand gap has risen to 5000 MW  and is expected to rise considerably in the coming years as shown in Figure 1. Table 1 shows the existing installed power generation in Pakistan. Pakistan has a huge potential in renewable energy especially solar energy to fill this gap if utilized properly. Pakistan, being in the Sun Belt, is ideally located to take advantage of solar energy technologies. This energy source is widely distributed and abundantly available in the country. Pakistan receives 4.45- 5.83 kWh/m2/day of global horizontal insolation as an annual mean value, with 5.30 kWh/m2/day over most areas of the country [2, 3]. This minimum level of solar radiation (4.45 kWh/m2/day) is higher than the world average of 3.61 kWh/m2/day  which shows that Pakistan lies in an excellent solar belt range. Pakistan has six main insolation measuring stations, namely Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Multan and 37 observatories distributed fairly well over the entire country, recording sunshine hours as shown in Table A in Appendix. From the sunshine hours data it can be seen that most of the cities mentioned receive more than 250 sunshine hours a month. 2006 energy policy has resulted in few practical steps taken for utilizing the abundantly available solar resource in Pakistan. A Solar Water Heating System has installed in a Leather Industry for first time in Pakistan. The system, using 400 m2 Evacuated Collector tubes, provides heated water at 70 to 80 oC (at least 10 degree rise to the incoming water) to the already used boiler system, thus saving 33% of the cost. The Project was funded by Higher Education Commission (HEC) under University-Industry Technological Support Program (UITSP). Solar water heating technology is relatively mature technology in Pakistan but its higher capital cost compared to conventional gas heaters has limited its use so far. This technology is widely recommended by a number of public sector organizations in northern mountains where natural gas is limited and difficult. The solar water heaters are now being commercially produced in the private sector. More than 2000 low cost solar cookers are used in Pakistan for cooking purposes. Similarly, solar dryers are used in Gilgit and Skardu (Northern part of Pakistan) to dry large quantities of fruits such as apricot and transport and sell them later in the urban areas, thus bringing economic prosperity to the area. Fresh water unavailability in large parts of Baluchistan, Sind and southern Punjab is a critical issue. Two solar desalination plants consisting of 240 sills each with a capacity of 6000 gallons of seawater/day have been operational at Gawadar in Baluchistan province. A number of such schemes are under active consideration by local governments in Baluchistan and Thar . The need for constructing solar power plants has been realized both at federal and provincial governments. The government of Sindh recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with German company Azur Solar for building a 50 MW solar power plant at Dhabeji in District Thatta. The firm Azur Solar will initially set up a 60 kW solar power station to provide free electricity to backward 'goths' (Villages), schools and basic health centres of Badin. Both, technical and economical feasibility of a 50 MW solar thermal power plant using Stirling-Dish (SD) technology in Jacaobabad in Sindh Province of Pakistan is analysed in this chapter. The performance and environmental aspects of Stirling dish for power generation with and without solar energy is examined, discussed and compared. The solar data was collected from Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) of Pakistan and Life cycle cost analysis is performed to determine the economic feasibility of the solar thermal power plant. This study reveals that Jacobabad falls within the high solar energy belt and has minimum radiation energy of 4.45 kWh/m2/day (which is higher than the world average of 3.61 kWh/m2/day) to produce electricity, even during the low sunshine and cloudy days. The study concluded that solar thermal power plant in Pakistan is feasible using solar Stirling dish technology.