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The average Pakistani mid-sized home is estimated to utilise four tube lights, four fans, a TV, fridge, computer and water pump, which require approximately 1,000 watts of power. For such households, solar and wind power are two effective alternative energy sources that do not require very large investments and can produce enough power to make homes self-sufficient with regard to energy generation.
Solar energy is harnessed by using photovoltaic cells (solar panels) that generate electricity when they absorb sunlight. A complete system consists of solar panels, an inverter and batteries that store energy. Installation costs are usually included in the price of the kit or are nominal. Solar energy systems are low-maintenance; storage batteries need to be changed every five years and the panels require occasional cleaning. People on a budget can also install solar panels individually and allot them to one room at a time.
Prices: 1,000-watt solar energy system: Rs 250,000-300,000;
300-watt solar energy system: Rs 75,000-90,000.
Wind energy systems convert the wind’s kinetic energy into an electric current. A complete kit consists of a wind turbine, an inverter and batteries that store energy. Installation charges are usually included in the equipment’s cost; the system requires annual maintenance including the oiling of moving parts, replacing the turbine’s brake-shoe every year and replacing the storage batteries every five years. Wind energy systems are best suited to coastal and rural regions where the winds are comparatively strong. To ensure uninterrupted wind flow in urban areas, turbines should be installed at least 10 metres above the tallest structure within a 100 metre radius.
Prices: 1,000-watt wind energy system: Rs 200,000-350,000;
300-watt wind energy system: Rs 60,000-110,000.
– Syed Wajeeh ul Hassan Naqvi
First published in the Real Estate Section of the Dawn National Weekend Advertiser on December 1, 2013