In a unique initiative, the government of the Punjab province in Pakistan has decided to reward students with solar panels for their academic performance in school. An estimated 300,000 students will be given solar panels, with each having the capacity to power one fan and one light. The cost of the Chief Minister’s Ujaala (Light) Programme (CMUP) is estimated at around $46 million.
The Punjab government will provide these solar panels to all students who scored 50 percent or more in their class 9 academic exams. While this initiative is an excellent one and may be matched by very few across the world, sadly these panels would have a warranty of just one year. Usually, solar panels used in power projects have a warranty of around 20-25 years.
In addition to distributing these solar panels, the government could add on to this excellent initiative by organising brief workshops for the students explaining to them the basics of power production from solar panels. Professionals must also help the students understand the importance of maintenance of the panels to make sure they remain operational for a long time.
Even though I am a renewable energy engineer, I was taught the essential information about the operation of a solar panel in my undergraduate education. The scientific principles of power generation in the solar panels is important, but now that these students will have a panel of their own they would need to understand some operational basics as well.
With this knowledge, the students would also have a good foundation for developing skills in the renewable energy sector as engineers and technicians. Pakistan faces a massive shortage of electricity. There is no better option than renewable energy to ensure adequate electricity and energy security.
Image Credit: Solar panels via Waynenf (some rights reserved)
The views presented in the above article are the author’s personal views only.