A German Aerospace Centre engineer measuring direct solar radiation

Assessing solar potential of Pakistan

German researchers will assess the solar power potential of Pakistan to help the country develop its renewable energy resources.

As part of a project funded by the World Bank’s Renewable Energy Resource Mapping scheme, a group of engineers from the German Aerospace Centre has travelled to the south Asian republic to carry out ground-based measurements of insolation to create a radiation map depicting the best spots to build solar power plants.

Overall nine insolation monitoring ground stations will be set up across the country to measure the radiation levels for the next two years. The first station has been launched in mid-October at the QA Solar Park near Bahawalpur in the Punjab Province.

The scientists will also work with satellite remote sensing data from the past 15 years to arrive at the most accurate results.

The solar radiation map should be completed by 2017 with some preliminary results expected to be made available even earlier.

The project is a part of a global initiative funded by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) administered by the World Bank and supported by twelve donor countries.

"The project and its results will help raise awareness about the availability of renewable energy resources in Pakistan. The validated solar atlas will enable government authorities as the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), which is Pakistan's counterpart in this project, and local institutions and businesses to identify suitable areas for developing renewable technologies," said Christoph Schillings, who leads the  at the German Aerospace Centre’s Institute of Technical Thermodynamics.

As part of the package, the German researchers will train local workers to help them develop the expertise needed to work with data to assess the solar potential of individual sites in the future.

Pakistan, together with Zambia, Tanzania and the Maldives, is among the twelve countries that have applied for the ESMAP’s Renewable Energy Resource Mapping Initiative.

The programme will see further assessments being carried out focusing on the potential for wind, biomass and hydropower.

The country hopes the scheme will help improve its energy security.

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