Fossil fuels are the primary sources of electricity generation in Pakistan. The energy demand and supply gap have intensified recently due to the massive population and fossil fuels are unable to meet the gigantic energy requirement of the country. Meanwhile, they also have adverse environmental impacts. Remote rural regions that are far away from the national grid do not have any means to fulfill their energy needs. The off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) system has emerged to be the best energy option to electrify these remote regions. However, the strategic problem pertaining to local electricity generation is the absence of the area-specific generation capacity and economic feasibility data for solar energy. To address this problem, this study aims to assess the potential and economic viability of utilizing an off-grid solar PV system for rural electrification in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The research results reveal that there is an excellent solar irradiance in the rural areas of Punjab for electricity generation. In addition, suitable tilt angles have been calculated to increase the energy output of solar PV in the respective regions. Furthermore, this study has undertaken the economic viability for solar PV systems, and it was found that electricity generation from the solar PV costs Pakistani rupees (PKR) 7.15 per kWh and is much cheaper than conventional electricity, which costs PKR 20.7 per kWh. Besides, the system can reduce carbon emissions considerably. If 100% of the unelectrified households adopt solar PV system, then 617,020 metric tons of CO2
could be mitigated annually. Based on research findings, this study has suggested essential policy recommendations that would serve as a guideline for the government and stakeholders to maximum deploy the off-grid solar PV rural electrification programs in Punjab as well as on a national scale.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited