Pakistan has tremendous potential for harnessing wind, solar, biomass and other renewable energy resources to help reduce power cuts and improve access to modern energy services. But the country lacks the high quality resource data at a national scale that is needed to take full advantage of these sources of clean energy.
For the past year, the World Bank and Pakistan’s Alternative Energy Development Board have been working together to map renewable energy resources across the entire country. The project, supported by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), will measure Pakistan’s potential for wind, solar and biomass energy by using ground-based data collection, GIS analysis, and geospatial planning. It is part of a broader Renewable Energy Resource Mapping initiative covering 12 countries.
Concluding the first phase of the project, initial maps of solar and wind potential for Pakistan were presented to the government and other stakeholders at an October 15 workshop in Islamabad. The result of months of computer-intensive modeling, these maps represent a significant improvement over previous efforts due to computational advances over the last decade. The maps are based on satellite data and global atmospheric models covering a 10 year period, and can be used to estimate the likely solar or wind potential at any point in the country.
However, to get to the level of confidence required by commercial developers, these modeling results must be compared against actual solar and wind measurements taken from ground-based stations.
A major part of the ESMAP renewable energy mapping initiative is to collect ground-based measurement data for a period of up to two years. This data is then used to improve the models, leading to the production of solar and wind atlases with a margin of error of as low as 5 percent. These in turn can be used by governments to set tariffs and guide the strategic development of renewable energy, and by commercial developers to carry out feasibility studies, leading to development of solar and wind power plants.