Pakistan has been plagued by power shortages across the country since 2005. Our country faces a major challenge not only in meeting national demands but also in producing clean electricity in the future.

Floating photovoltaic system (FPVS) is a novel emerging idea in renewable energy production to solve the current energy problems. This system can be installed in water bodies such as oceans, dams, reservoir, lakes, fish farms, canals, and waste treatment plants. Due to insufficiency of land, the demand of FPVS installations is observed to increase worldwide.

Pakistan’s current power shortage is 2600MW. There is a need to shift the country to renewable energy sources to grow productivity. The availability of water bodies, terrain, and climate change throughout the year makes Pakistan an ideal region to use Floating Photovoltaic technology to meet its energy needs. The installation of FPV systems requires sufficient water dams where these systems can be used.

Moreover, Pakistan is an agricultural country. So, to conserve land resources, we should focus on floating PV systems instead of land PV systems. In this way, we can use more land for agricultural purpose. Pakistan has numerous water reservoirs for the implementation of FPV programs. Therefore, ensuring a sustainable future of water supply and energy production.

 Currently, Pakistan is shown in a total of 164 dams. Punjab has the highest number of dams followed by Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. In addition to dams, Pakistan has one of the world’s leading canal systems associated with dams that make Pakistan more suitable for the use of floating photovoltaic technology. There are many natural and man-made facilities across the country that can also prove to be the basis for the installation of FPV systems and have the potential to generate electricity in the national grid system.

Solar energy potential associated with various areas of Pakistan ranges from 2 to 8.4 kWh/m2 per day. The average GHI attributed to Pakistan is 5.3kWh/m2 per day. In Pakistan, research has indicated that, the areas of Baluchistan have the highest photovoltaic potential than the areas of Sindh and Southern Punjab. The areas of Northern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit Baltistan have the referred to least photovoltaic potential.

Despite the availability of ideal conditions and positive trend towards the adaptation of the technology, Pakistan still has not a single functional floating photovoltaic system. However, Pakistani government is planning to install floating solar panels on different dams. Unfortunately, a country with potential power generation of 3 million MW of clean energy using PV technology currently brings in just 1557 MW of production.

In recent years, significant efforts have been made by the government and the private sector to adopt PV systems as an alternative to conventional energy sources. According to the solar map, Punjab’s ground-based PV power stations of approximately 465 MW are operational, while project planes with a capacity of 1505 MW (235 MW in Sindh, 220 MW in Punjab, 1050 MW in KP,) PV power plants have been excluded and 780 MW high power projects (240 MW in Sindh, 490 MW in Punjab, 50 MW in Baluchistan) are expected to operate.

This suggests that Pakistan will soon make a significant contribution to the clean energy sector by doubling the solar energy output. The plan not only addresses energy needs in the country but also protects the amount of water from evaporation and is beneficial to arid regions facing critical water management challenges.

For implementing FPVS, a solar tracking system is required to check the moving sun’s rays and angles. The installation and implementation of FPV systems is less expensive compared to global PV systems. The installation of floating PV technology will solve land acquisition problems in Pakistan. FPVS proves environmentally friendly, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and algae growth. Floating Photovoltaic system will be a good source of income for lake management in Pakistan. Water losses will be reduced by using this type of technology. FPVS could be a viable alternative to agro-energy systems and policies in Pakistan. FPV technology is a new form of energy efficient technology, there is still a need to work in this area to fully benefit.

Pakistani Researchers have examined the potential to deploy the Floating photovoltaic technology on hydroelectric dam. A research has been carried out on implementing a 200 MW potential floating Solar Photovoltaic for Ghazi Barotha dam of Pakistan. The analysis has shown the importance of the FSPV plant for meeting the peak load demand. The implementation of innovative technologies like Floating Solar PV plant is a significant step towards achieving the goal of 100% power generation in Pakistan by 2030.

By Khola Ikram

Mechanical Engineer-SMME,NUST.