Pakistan and China have started construction of what will be the world’s largest solar farm, at 100 megawatts, a pilot project with 400,000 solar panels, the first solar power plant to be built in Pakistan. Spread over nearly 500 hectares of flat land in the Punjabi desert, it will be known as the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park (QUASP).
It will replace at the top of the ranking the solar of the Mojave Desert, California.
The $130 million project took only three months for the Chinese company, Xinjian Sunoasis, to build it. And it is only the first part of a larger project. When the project is completed in 2017, there will be a total of 5.2 million photovoltaic cells producing up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power some 320,000 typical homes.
Built in a desert area that receives 13 hours of sunlight each day, it is an ideal place for solar energy. According to QUASP CEO Najam Ahmed Shah, it will make energy in Pakistan much cleaner by reducing approximately 57,500 tons of coal burned each year and reducing carbon emissions by 90,750 tons annually. Which will also help Pakistan meet its goal of reducing hydrocarbon use to 60% by 2025, from the current 87%.
But the project has its detractors. Some experts say the project is being built too far from where the power will be consumed and requires expensive network infrastructure and subsequent maintenance.