TO GO WITH: Pakistan-economy-energy,FEATURE by Masroor Gilani Pakistani company employees show a solar tube well set to potential customers during a marketing demonstration in a park in Islamabad on March 10, 2012. From mosques, to homes to street lights, Pakistanis are increasingly seeing the light and realising that year-round sun may be a quick and cheap answer to an enormous energy crisis. Pakistan needs to produce 16,000 megawatts of electricity to cater for daily demand, but falls short by providing only 13,000 megawatts, according to the state-owned Pakistan Electric Power Company. AF PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)
FAROOQ NAEEM—AFP/Getty Images
By Francesca Trianni
April 22, 2014

Crippling power cuts are a frequent and frustrating occurrence in Pakistan, but a new ambitious solar project promises to harness the sun’s heat to tackle the country’s growing energy crisis.

The government has spent $5 million to put in place a solar park in the desolate, desert area near Bahawalpur to benefit the entire Punjab province – the largest and most populous in the country, the AFP reported.

The government says the QuaideAzam Solar Energy Park, capable one day of generating up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity, will be one of the largest of its kind in the world.

In addition to the local government, private entrepeuners are taking interest in turning the scorched earth into a sea of solar panels.

“You see in my country we have a lot of sunshine, here we have long days of sun,” said Raja Waqar of Islamabad-based Safe Solar Power. Waqar’s company plans to invest $10 million to build a 10 MW project in this area. “It’s cheap and that’s why a lot of people believe in it.”

Pakistan is going through one of the worst energy crises in its history. At a time when a World Bank report suggested that around 44 per cent of Pakistan’s households are not connected to the grid, the country still falls short by providing only 13,000 megawatts of electricity out of the 16,000 needed to cater to daily demand, the state-owned Pakistan Electric Power Company said.

The project is due to be completed by the end of this year.

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