Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wind energy does miracle in Sindh villages

Wind energy does miracle in Sindh villages
Locally-manufactured wind turbines costing Rs0.16m each lit up four small villagesWednesday, May 21, 2008By Shahid HusainKARACHI: Given the fact that Pakistan is facing a power shortfall of 4,000MW, it is heartening to see that the Sindh Rural Support Programme (SRSP), a Hyderabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has illuminated four small villages in Jati in the Thatta district, some 150 kms from Karachi, through installing wind turbines, giving a cue that it is time to tap alternative sources of energy.

The villages include Raj Sheikh Bachal, Mian Abdul Karim Jat, Abdullah Jat and Mohammad Umar Thahmein and have average 26 houses each.“Each wind turbine cost us Rs160,000 and was acquired from a Karachi-based private firm,” Dr Yameen Memon, Trustee of SRSP told The News.The inhabitants of these villages, comprising poor farmers and fisherfolk, had never dreamt of getting electricity and are extremely happy.“We don’t face load-shedding,” said Ahmed Ajeeb, 33, hailing from Abdullah Jat village. “Now our children can study, do their homework and can play even during the night and our women can continue embroidery work,” he said. Each household saves Rs75 every month that is deposited in a bank to meet any exigency. The villagers sow rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds and farmlands are dotted with mango, neem, conocorpus and eucalyptus trees.

There is also abundance of devi bushes in the area.However, since Jati happens to be at the tail end of River Indus, there is acute shortage of freshwater.“We don’t know when we will get water. But when it comes, we practice agriculture. I own eight acres of land but cultivate only two acres because of scarcity of water,” said Gul Mohammad, 25, an inhabitant of Abdullah Jat village.“Last year I cultivated rice on my land but most of it is lying barren this year because there is no water,” he said.But people have not lost hope. “Some of our requirement will be fulfilled by Almighty through rains while the rest will come through the canal,” said Mammon Lodho, 60, a farmer in Mammon Lodho village.“We received water a month ago. Now we are being told that it will come on May 20 but we are not sure,” he said.Thanks to wind turbines even the streetlights in the villages have started functioning. “There are lots of snakes in our area and would frequently bite villagers but after we got electricity, we are relatively safe. Even stray dogs don’t bark now because they recognize us,” said Nisar Ahmed, 30, who lives in Umer Thahiem village.“We feel as if we are living in cities,” he said. “Every village that has been illuminated has an average population of 150 people. The wind velocity here is 6-9 meter per second (MPS) and we have made sure that the wind turbines that are being used are locally-manufactured,” said Dr. Memon.

Given the fact that Pakistan has a 1700-km long coastal belt and pretty good wind velocity, perhaps the experiment could be replicated in vast areas of the country. “I have discovered a wind corridor between Gharo and Keti Bundar that is 80km wide and 150km in depth and it can generate 4MW energy at every kilometer at a cost that is cheaper than coal,” said Brigadier (Rtd.) Dr. Naseem A. Khan, Vice Chancellor, Hamdard University and former secretary, Alternate Energy Development Board.He said Pakistan should learn from India that is generating 1800MW from wind energy, equivalent to energy produced by Mangla Dam. But he conceded that gas lobby was very strong in Pakistan and it discouraged tapping alternate sources of energy.