Saturday, 31 October 2015

Off-Grid Power System

How many of us are tired of the never ending load-shedding or the impede power generation? Imagine about the life of rural areas of Pakistan where there is no electricity or if electricity is present then the low voltage make it impossible for the villagers to deal with.

Trusting on the national Power System (On-Grid system) is not turning out to be any good for us, thanks to the poor planning and governance. Electricity in Pakistan is not only minimum to be provided throughout the country, but also very expensive. According to a recent report on Dawn (, The cost per unit kilowatt (kWh) of generated electricity in Pakistan is around 14 cents (14 Rupees). Consumers, on average, pay 11.50 Rupees per kWh. The systematic subsidy, which is almost 15 per cent of the cost, adds up to billions in losses.Also we have transmission and distribution problems in Pakistan. The city side and industrial areas are up to a great benefit, while the villagers are dying to have proper electricity. Therefore a separate system is used in rural areas: THE OFF-GRID POWER SYSTEM.

Off-grid systems, is used in terms of not being connected to the national power system. An independent working system, off-grid power provides individual enterprises or household system opportunity to facilitate its own power need.

Salima Visram (Kenya) with a potential customer using her soular backpack, a product which serves the usual function of carrying children’s books. But it also has a solar panel connected to a battery pack which can be charged by the sun during kids’ usually long walk to and from school. When they’re at home, the battery can be linked to an LED lamp. (Via Forbes)

Meeting Salima Visram, founder of Soular Backpack, personally at a conference taught me the importance of having an independent power generating system especially for areas that are highly neglected by the government. According to latest Dawn news report (July 24, 2015), the demand for electricity in Pakistan exceeds supply by 5,000 MW. At its worst, the shortfall could be as high as 8,000 MW and the installed electricity generation capacity is around 22,000 MW. Also the affordability charges are high due to poor planning and governance. After all this, the highest preferences for electricity division are the major cities or industrial sites. Villages are being completely ignored and therefore there is substantial need for them to get independent and produce affordable energy for themselves.

One of my interviewee, Anand Kumar, residing in Umarkot District, Sindh, shared that in major commercial areas off-grid systems are used as a source of 24 hours power generation. It helps in maintaining the economy and sustaining the life of people residing in Umarkot District. Also, Janjhi, 200KM far from Umerkot city has no electricity, therefore all houses have independent off-grid system that produce minimal energy source for light especially at night times.

Pakistanis Approach to Off-Grid System
In total, through the means of surveys and interviews, I amalgamated responses from 28 citizens (12 were city’s residents and 16 were rural areas’ residents) about their knowledge related to Off-Grid Power System and following are some major findings:

Major Learning from my Survey/Interviews:
-          According to the data, most of the city’s residents do not know about Off-Grid Power system and rely more on the K-Electric providing electricity on regular basis.
-          Sandeep Hirani, resident of Interior Sindh shares, “In Tharparkar, Sindh, people even use Solar Panels for TV dish and antenna.”
-          Khuda Burdi, resident of MourKhon, Gilgit, shares, “In District Madrassas (Northern Pakistan), Chitral, and Gilgit Baltistan people have installed personal turbines working on small tributaries of river and producing electricity.”
-          Shimshal, a remote village in Northern Pakistan, use Solar Power UPS to generate electricity. UPS are inverters connected to a car or truck battery that convert the battery power to daily life electricity. Sun charges the battery during the day and the battery powers bulbs and other electronic devices at night.  

Abuzar Ali, father of my interviewee, Khuda Burdi, with help of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) built a powerhouse in MourKhon, Gilgit which provide 350 KVA with a total potential capacity of over 450 KVA

These interviews and results have really astonished my believes and actually moved me to search more about using off-grid power system in our city as well as we can't just rely on our government to come up with better techniques or impress our with their work. What do you all think? What's your perspective about using off-grid power system?

Comment below or you can always tweet me about your opinion. My twitter is @azimadhanjee