Pakistan’s parliament is now the first parliament in the world to be completely powered by solar energy.
Speaker of the National Assembly Pakistan Ayaz Sadiq announced that the solar panels in the house generate 80 MW of electricity, 62 MW of which are consumed by the National Assembly and 18 MW are contributed to the national grid.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to formally ‘switch on’ the program later this month.
Special secretary at the National Assembly, Munawar Abbas Shah, previously commented: “This is the first project of its kind [in a public building] in Pakistan, and later more public buildings will be converted to solar power to overcome the energy crisis.”
“The consumption of electricity in the parliament even jumps over two megawatts in summers when the house is in session.”
Construction on the project began last year with funding provided by the Chinese government as “an act of friendship,” the Independent reported.
The plant, which cost $52 million to build, produces 80 megawatts of electricity, 62 of which will power the national assembly and 18 of which will feed into the national grid. According to PV Magazine, the parliament could save an estimated $1 million per year in energy bills with the new solar power plant.
In Pakistan, nearly half of all residents are not connected to the national grid. Residents who are connected to the grid regularly experience rolling blackouts and power outages. And the problem is only expected to get worse in the coming years.
“Within the next few years, Pakistan’s peak power demand is likely to exceed current installed capacity by nearly 10,000 megawatts,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Total energy demand will nearly double in the next 10 years, and quadruple in the next 60.”
Pakistan’s solar insolation is one of the highest in the world, and foreign investors are taking note. They invested more than $3 billion in Pakistan’s renewable energy sector in 2015.
One example is the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park, a partnership between Pakistan and the Chinese company Xinjiang SunOasis. When the $130 million project is complete in 2017, it will be the world’s largest solar farm. It’s part of a larger project, the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.