Let our powers combine: UET grad harnesses wind, solar power to plug shortage

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While state-supplied power plays a dark game of hide and seek with consumers, many people have long depended on alternatives suitable to their respective income. Some installed generators or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) while others have turned to greener, long-term cost-effective methods such as solar panels.

And with no end in sight to the energy crisis, people are experimenting with other options. As thermal generation is out of reach for individuals, locals are now trying to produce electricity with the help of wind turbines in hilly areas.

“There has been no suspension of electricity in my house since I installed a wind turbine three years back,” said Fidaullah, an engineer who installed a hybrid system at his home in Lower Dir. The system is supported by both solar and wind energy simultaneously.

The University of Engineering and Technology graduate said his hybrid generates 2,000 watts of electricity at 230 volts; a little over what the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) supplies to its consumers (220 volts).

Let there be light

Fidaullah had been living in a hostel and was not used to the hours-long outages which plagued his hometown. It was always difficult for him to study at home during holidays.

“I wanted to do something and generate power with my own resources. The idea clicked when I was working on an assignment in 2010.” Fidaullah drafted a sketch and started collecting the required material.

“I got a wooden door frame and some used PVC pipes. The structure is made from the frame while the PVC pipes are cut into two, so it functions as a rotor and runs the dynamo (an electric generator).”

He recalled his neighbours laughed when they saw what he was doing.

Day and night

For the solar panels, he purchased a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) system online from the United Kingdom for around £100 (approximately Rs16,600). The MMPT helps manage solar power.

“The solar power system works efficiently once you have both the charge controller and the MPPT.” The enterprising engineer said he uses solar panels during daytime and wind turbines at night.

In Malakand division, Fidaullah added, wind turbines can produce electricity at a much cheaper cost than hydel.

“If the government starts installing wind turbines at Kalpani and Sarlarha mountains, they (government) can generate electricity for Dir and Chitral for free,” he said.

Tajaga, the highest mountain in Dir, has the most favourable conditions for a wind turbine to work, explained Fidaullah.

Leaving WAPDA behind

The UET graduate proudly pointed out he only uses Wapda’s electricity to pump water from wells but all the appliances in his house, including a refrigerator, function on the electricity he produces.

“I am installing one at the house of my in-laws. Initially sceptical, the people in my village are now requesting me to do the same for them,” he said.

If the government takes it seriously, a similar initiative can reduce their electricity burden in these areas, stated Fidaullah.

Source: The Express Tribune