Engineering Students Complete Solar Concentrator in Pakistan

Posted 31 July 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

The engineering students at Air University completed their final project of a hybrid solar-biomass system. Their model used our Sol4 solar concentrator in combination with a biogas digester. We congratulate the students for their graduation and hope they keep pursuing the advent of renewable energies in Pakistan.

For this article the student team of Bilal Gondal, Muhammad Hassaan and Zia Bakht Butt shared with me their project report, including notes on the energy situation in Pakistan, their experience with GoSol.org, and the future of renewable energies. Bilal about the construction:

Your design is easy to understand and straight-forward to build. We achieved the advertised temperatures in the first try with none of the complications experienced by other students that used a different solar concentrator design.
Final moves during construction of the solar concentrator.
Solar Concentrator before mirror calibration
Solar Concentrator achieving focus point

For the students the project was an initial success. Both the solar concentrator and their biogas system managed to produce the estimated amount of energy. The students are excited about proving the baseline viability of their hybrid system.

I am sticking to the solar/ hybrid system, as it is the technology of the future. What needs to be done is to use this concept to produce energy from the small to the mega level. Industries like textiles and beverages can benefit greatly from solar/ hybrid thermal energy.
Biogas digester producing methane to heat steam boiler at night or during cloudy wheather
Solar concentrator to heat steam boiler directly during sun hours
Pakistan’s Energy Scenario [1]
- Pakistan is an oil importing country.
- Majority of Pakistan’s power generation is from furnace oil, diesel and natural gas fuels.
- Because of fast growing economy and population growth demand for energy is rapidly increasing.
- Pakistan lies in an area of one of the highest solar insulation in the world.
- The average solar radiation is 5.5 KW/ and there are more than 300 clear sunny days in a year.
- The solar potential is estimated well over 100,000 MW.

Energy Outlook in Pakistan
"Recently the idea of converting coal products into gas gained political traction in our country. Technically in this process the hard-to-reach underground coal reserves are slowly burnt with little oxygen to gradually turn the coal into flammable gas. The largest coal reserves of Pakistan exist in Thar. Now the government has resorted to produce electricity with this method.

It is hard to believe that in 2001 our country had 4,000 megawatts of excess power in our electricity grid. Today the total power supply in Pakistan has risen to 16000MW, but with population and the economy’s growth we are now facing a shortage of 4000MW resulting in power-cuts and austerity measures. This is a sad state of affairs as Pakistan has an enormous renewable energy potential, especially for solar (see box). [2]"

Solar energy is at the moment the only renewable energy source that can compete with fossil fuels and it is clean, safe and cheap energy available all over the world.

We congratulate the team to a successful build and are looking forward to see what projects the newly graduated engineering students will undertake in the future.

Footnotes

[1Adapted from Student’s Final Report for Air University, Islamabad

[2Adapted from Student’s Final Report for Air University, Islamabad


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