Solar energy as a reliable source for improving education

Leading Pakistani university, LUMS uses sun2live rooftop installation to power its campus

Given the severity of the energy shortage in Pakistan, crippling the development of the country, the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) decided to forgo its fuel cost for its gas/diesel gesents and move to long-term sustainability by making use of solar power. In early 2013, LUMS started considering a long-term, sustainable strategy to tackle the electrici ty crisis and therefore called upon The meeco Group to work together for the development of electricity generation capacity and the implementation of renewable energy solutions. Within that year a first 51 kwp sun2roof installation was executed as proof of concept.

Only one year after the signing of the initial contract, The meeco Group, through its joint venture, OurSun Solar Power Ltd. and LUMS expand their collaboration by concluding another Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) amounting t o additional 322 kWp. This larger-scale sun2roof solar installation produces a minimum of 502.200 kWh per year and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 43.18 tons annually. Additionally, a joint monitoring system has been added to the solar solution at the university in order to analyse and enhance performance of PV installations.

Through this interview with Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Vice Chancellor, LUMS, we will be looking back at this collaboration to discuss the motivations and benefits of this solar investment.

Prior to his current position at LUMS, Dr. Naqvi was the Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan for eight years, where he helped develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for the revival of the higher education sector of Pakistan. With a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering, extensive teaching and research experience in the US and Pakistan, Dr. Naqvi, over the past decade, has been actively involved in spearheading higher education reforms in Pakistan. He also has a number of patents to his credit and has worked with start-ups bringing high-tech inventions to the marketplace.

Dr. Naqvi, renewable energy will play an important role in the energy mix of the future. Why have you decided to adopt a solar power supply?

As a sustainable and renewable resource, solar power generates no carbon emissions or greenhouse gases and hence improves public health and environment quality. Investing in such a vast and inexhaustible energy supply is an important effort that companies should make in order to conserve nature and envision a cleaner and better tomorrow for future generations. Financially, solar energy provides an excellent return on investment with further enthusiastic opportunities.

How was the situation in the region before installing the turnkey solution of The meeco Group? Have you been able to resolve energy problems through the solar installation?

The country is currently experiencing an acute energy crisis, involving ever increasing diesel fuel costs and recurring power outages. For this reason, switching to other forms of energy, such as solar power, was the correct response for reducing our dependency on diesel power generation and thus lowering the overall energy mix cost of the campus by leading to major energy savings and overall reduction in CO2 emissions.

Besides fixing those issues, what other benefits has the installation provided?

Research is the other major benefit. LUMS, as an educational institute, not only promotes research activities but also facilitates its students/researchers with actual setups that can exhibit real time scenarios rather than conceptual theories.

Furthermore, installing PV modules on the rooftops helps in reflecting the heat of the summer, which naturally maintains desirable temperatures inside the buildings, thereby reducing the air-conditioning load.

Does the solar solution affect the work of the students and employees?

Yes, in a really positive way. Before the solar project implementation, it was very difficult to keep their schedules on track considering the recurrent power interruptions. Now, thanks to meeco's sun2live energy storage solution, our staff members and students are not affected by power outages anymore.

How is the Pakistani community reacting to solar systems like yours? Are people well aware of their benefits and are they investing in such projects?

Due to the ongoing energy crises in Pakistan, people need to rely on sustainable technologies to get rid of the prevailing electricity problems. Solar energy is a good substitute to diesel and gas generators due to massive development in that field and significant decrease in solar PV modules prices, making it become an even more lucrative investment for domestic consumers.

About The meeco Group: The meeco Group was consolidated in 2000 and oriented its main focus towards the energy sector. With world headquarters located in Zug, Switzerland, the group currently has over 50 employees working across 4 continents. Thanks to a structured but flexible approach based on its core compete ncies, The meeco Group has delivered over 370 MWp of clean, renewable energy solutions across four continents. The meeco Group accomplishes its mission by providing project developers, investors, governments, and private businesses with the services necessary for timely financing, installation, and operation of clean energy assets.

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