Now the time has come to turn up to natural energy resources – such as sunlight, rain, ocean and geothermal heat. These are renewable ones because they are naturally replenished. In 2006, about 18 percent of global final energy consumption comes from them, with solar hot water/heating, which contributed 1.3 percent. Modern technologies, such as geothermal energy, wind power, solar power, and ocean energy together provided some 0.8 percent of final energy consumption.
Wind power is growing at the rate of 30 percent annually, with a worldwide installed capacity of over 100 GW, and is widely used in several developed countries.
We, in Pakistan, geographically are in an outstanding position to cash in on the renewable resources, but the fact is that such resounding claims, like the country is crammed with Almighty’s blessing, have now started to pinch our minds. There is no doubt in it. But what is the use of such assertions if we are unable to convert such avowals into actions?
What to talk of the developed countries, even the countries like Kenya, with the world’s highest household solar ownership rate with roughly 30,000 small (20-100 watt) solar power systems sold per year, Brazil, with one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world, Argentina, working on a 6800 MW project, and mainly India working on projects to generate 7900 MW, are not only striving to earn an estimable name in the comity of nations but also trying to capitalize on renewable energy resources as much as possible.
This is not only enabling them to reduce their dependence on oil but also to boost their economy. But over authorities are enjoying a sweet slumber over such issues. We, by being forced to be dependant on the oil, are being exploited in many ways. We so many times, fall a prey to oil shortage. Especially for the last six months or so, it has remained to constant exercise to face the oil shortage by the end of month. The price which we pay at filling stations for oil, gives a profit of not less than 35 rupees to the government, and it earned 12 billion rupees from oil every month. The fall of price in oil even below than 37 dollars per barrel could not convince the government to reduce the oil price. It also seems as if the authorities in our country have never been serious in exploring new avenues to generate energy. The speculations are so many while the answer is none. Last year, an official boasted that Pakistan would be able to produce another 1,000 MW power through wind energy within next three to four years. But is their any follow up about that since then? Obviously none. If there is, one always believes that the news is going to be merely news.
On the other hand, it is also worthy to mention our achievement of installing about 30 windmills for pumping water in different parts of Sindh and Balochistan but they are only on experimental bases.
We are yet to install a large wind turbine for power generation and are in the process of issuing letters of intent to companies to generate power through wind. Wrapping all it up, we are way back in such projects and besides political instability, the lack of interest in technology is also a main reason.
The ocean can help us in producing two types of energy: Thermal energy from the sun’s heat, and Mechanical energy from its tides and waves. We, in Pakistan, are in outstanding position to cash in on the energy of ocean and wind. One estimate says less than 0.1 percent of the oceans’ solar energy would supply more than 20 times the daily energy consumption of the US. But using this technology lies a long way ahead. But are we ready to get into it?
The oceans possess an unbelievably gigantic amount of energy and are close to many concentrated populations. Many researches have demonstrated that the ocean energy contains the potentiality of providing for a substantial amount of new renewable energy around the world. New the world, acknowledging the need for other sources of energy, is turning towards the oceans to cash in on its energy and has even started to use ocean thermal energy for many applications, including electricity generation.
The oceans, by covering more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface, are the world’s largest solar collectors. The sun warms the surface water a lot more than the deep water, and this difference in temperature creates thermal energy. Just a small amount of the heat ensnared in the ocean can generate lot of power for the world.
Then the ocean correspond to a vast and largely unexploited source of energy in the form of fluid flow (currents, waves, and tides also termed hydrokinetics) and thermal and salinity gradients. Numerous countries are using a number of modus operandi to extract energy from the ocean, though so many are in the phase of investigation or demonstration yet.
The electricity conversion systems are of three types: closed-cycle, open-cycle and hybrid. Closed-cycle system uses the ocean’s warm surface water to vaporize a working fluid, which has a low boiling point, such as ammonia. The vapor expands and turns a turbine. The turbine then activates a generator to produce electricity. Open-cycle actually boils the seawater by operating at low pressures. This produces steam that passes through a turbine/generator. And hybrid system is a combination of both closed-cycle and open-cycle.
Ocean mechanical energy is very much different from ocean thermal energy as it is fairly constant. And, unlike thermal energy, the electricity conversion of both tidal and wave energy mostly demands mechanical devices. It is also pertinent to mention here that using waves and tidal power is expensive at the moment, but the research by the Carbon Trust have found that prices are likely to fall soon. Machines in the ocean’s surface generate electricity when waves crash against them. This can then power an electricity generator, a bit like a wind turbine. While tidal energy if made by using different machines on the ocean bed, this time talking energy from the water flow or tide.
Because the technology is still talking shape, so it is too soon to say how much such projects would cost. But researchers hope to make it as cost-effective as fossil fuels. But initial investment may be higher; the currents that drive the machinery are free.
There are still many unknowns and risks. One fear is the “Cuisinart effect”: The spinning underwater blades can chop up fish and other creatures. Researchers are of the opinion that the underwater turbines would pose little risk to passing ships as well.
The countries that are utilizing the ocean energy include England, Norway, Australia, Italy, France, Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, South Korea, Mexico, United Kingdom and Channel Islands, United States, Russia, South Africa, New Zealand and China and of course, not Pakistan yet. We are still far behind and even Scotland has announced to build world’s first wind farms under the sea, which is a major step towards leading the way in marine renewable energy with the proclamation that the world’s first tidal farms could be build within three years.
The world has been harnessing the wind’s energy for hundreds of years and historically, it has directly been used to mobilize sailing ships, pump water or grind grain. But now, the windmill’s modern equivalent a wind turbine is being used to generate electricity by exploiting wind’s energy.
The worldwide capacity of wind powered generators was 94.1 Gigawatts till a year ago. Although wind produces about 1 percent of worldwide electricity only, however, it is growing rapidly, increasing more than fivefold globally between 2000 and 2007.
The authorities in Pakistan seem to be active, though just a little, in this field and have endeavored to introduce such projects, as considerable potential of wind energy is available in the coastal belt of Sindh, Balochistan as well as in the desert areas of Punjab and Sindh.
But this renewable source of energy, however, has not been utilized significantly so far and we are still exploiting air to operate things like water pumps etc and not generating electricity. (Notably, the Babylonian emperor Hammurbi made such plans to use wind power for his irrigation projects in the 17 th century BC) The Alternative Energy Development Board has analyzed the wind data of Pakistan as collected by Pakistan Metrological Department. According to which, the coastal belt of the country is blessed with a God-gifted wind corridor that is 60 KM wide and 180 KM long and which has the exploitable potential of 50,000 MW of electricity generation through wind energy.
So if exploited, this source has the potential to fulfill our energy demands. Micro-wind turbines can electrify most of the remote villages in the south and it has further been estimates that over 5,000 villages can be electrified through this energy in Sindh Balochistan and Northern areas. So far, only about 18 villages have been electrified using micro wind turbines.
But we are way behind from the rest of the world, as large wind turbines for power generation have not been installed in Pakistan yet. However, about 30 windmills for pumping water have been made operational in different parts of Sindh and Balochistan but they are merely for experimental purposes.
The leading countries that are generating electricity from wind include the United States with 25,170 MW, Germany with 23,903 MW, Spain with 16,754 MW, China with 12,210 MW while India with 9,645 MW is at sixth place. The rest of countries are Italy, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Portugal, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Greece, Poland, Turkey, Norway, Egypt, Taiwan, Brazil, New Zealand, Belgium, South Korea, Finland, Morocco, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Mexico, Iran, Costa Rica, Bulgaria and Hungary.
UK has put mini-wind turbines into trial which can be fastened to family homes and can produce enough electricity to power a TV, DVD player, computer, fridge, freezer and several lights for the home. These turbines can work in wind speeds of just 3mph and are being tested in both town and countryside locations. Under another project, the UK government is installing wind turbines in schools to meet their power needs.
So we should also start working on such projects with much zeal and zest. If we are not in a position to initiate bigger projects, we should introduce small-scale wind power projects, which can generate power up to 50 KW. Private entrepreneurs like cellular companies, with such projects can also power their installations like towers at isolated places.
Similarly, equipments such as wireless internet gateways may be powered by a wind turbine that charges a small battery, replacing the need for a connection to the power grid.
Wind power generation has negligible fuel costs and relatively low maintenance costs; in economic terms, wind power has a low marginal cost and a high proportion of capital cost.