Economics & Business Society

Taping Solar Energy

“Thus, solar energy has become need of our country, which is grappled with the energy crisis,” he remarked and added, “Promotion of the solar energy system particularly in rural areas can help transform the life.”

Karachi: Resident of Gul Hassan Shoro village in Thatta district, 35-years-old Salimat Shoro is still in a state of euphoria over solar energy system, which lights up her thatched hut every night. ” she narrated:

“I am extremely happy that we have now electricity in our home and I can cook food in the night and do embroidery for earning livelihood,”

She is not alone to feel exaltation on the arrival of solar-powered electricity in the village. Other residents of the village are also celebrating the facility, which has transformed their lives in many ways. The villagers said that prior to the solar-power electricity in the village the life would come to a halt after sunset.

“We used to stop all kinds of chores and get done with dinner before dusk and all kind of other activity would cease altogether. But, since the solar energy system has lightened up our homes, women do embroidery and other routine tasks at home till late night”

Mother of five children, Nazeeran Shoro supports her husband’s income by selling different kinds of hand-made embroideries, which she makes herself. Shaista Shoro told:

“My husband is farmer, who earns daily Rs200. It was hard to feed my children sufficiently with such a meager income. Which was why, my all children, I and my husband suffered malnutrition. But, now I have been adding up more to our household income by sewing bed sheets and making other traditional cloths in the brightness of solar-powered energy saver bulbs. My husband sells out these embroidered work in the market,”

The facility of solar energy system has also reduced financial burden of the households of the village. The total kerosene oil monthly bill of all 45 households, burnt for lightening their homes during night, stood at estimated Rs67,500 (average Rs1,500 per household a month).

“I used to purchase kerosene oil of Rs1,500 every month, which was a burden on my monthly Rs7,500 income. But, I am happy that we have got rid of buying the kerosene oil,” said Murad Ali Shoro.

Burning kerosene oil is not good for health thus its burning was also a cause of different health illness among inhabitants of the village. Salimat Shoro said: “

We are really happy that this modern source of electricity has also rid us from several health hazards caused by the kerosene oil burning.”

The provision of solar energy system has eased such an economic burden on the pockets of the poor households, she elaborated. The Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) established a network of five solar energy systems few months back in support with the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). Syed Yousuf Ali Shah, field engineer of SCOPE, said:

“The cost of one solar energy system, which comprises two solar panels, one rechargeable battery and control panel, is around Rs113,000. One system light up five energy saver lights [of 14 watts each light] for average five hours”

CEO of the SCOPE Tanveer Arif said the country is reeling under virulent strains of energy shortfall. Besides, it has now become unaffordable for millions of people because of its rising cost.

“Thus, solar energy has become need of our country, which is grappled with the energy crisis,” he remarked and added, “Promotion of the solar energy system particularly in rural areas can help transform the life.”

But, there are reasons which hamper promotion and adoption of the solar energy at mass level, said solar energy experts. Environmentalist Bharoomal Amrani of SCOPE has been involved in promotion of solar energy in the most marginalized rural areas of Sindh. He pointed out that
>> high initial costs,
>> problems with after-sale service, etc,
inhibit the widespread use of this technology having great potential in our country.

Senior SCOPE official Mahjabeen Khan has remarked that providing solar electricity for catering to the lighting needs of the poor and low-income households in and rural markets has brought positive impacts in the villages, including improvement in quality of life and rise in income and employment opportunities. She has urged the government to electrify rural areas through solar systems by encouraging private sector to invest in the solar energy. Mahjabeen Khan of SCOPE Pakistan said:

“Availability of easy loans through banks for those who want to install solar energy systems in both urban and rural areas but cannot afford because of its high cost, can also help promote this technology in the country”

She said that unavailability of safe drinking water and safe sanitation are other major problems. “Efforts are being taken to solves these basic problems.”

About the author

Saleem Shaikh

The writer is a development journalist. He writes on water, sanitation, environment, climate change, agriculture, women development, human rights, education, health, development budgets and economy.


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