In collaboration with a multinational company, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad has started work on a 3.8 MW solar power plant project which is expected to complete in a stipulated period of six months.

In this regard, a ceremony was held at the Postgraduate Agricultural Research Station, Jhang Road, where former Austria defence minster Herbert Scheibner was the chief guest. The university is setting up the plant in collaboration with Apolo Ampex Pvt Ltd to produce solar energy of 5.7 MW peak load and 3.8 MW average running load. The company is also setting up green houses on the 21 acres at UAF whereas five major off-season crops would be grown. The Austrian team included Member of Parliament Gerhard Huber and Austrian Company CEO Rainer Kertes.  Apolo Ampex Ltd CEO Shahzada Khurrum and UAF Dean Dr Muhammad Iqbal were also present on the stage.  Addressing on the occasion, Herbert Scheibner vowed to provide all-out assistance to Pakistan in promoting alternative energy to cope with power outages issue. He stressed the need for enhancing collaboration between Pakistan and Austria in various fields including education, energy sector and agriculture. He said that in the current century, solar energy is the best option because sun will remain available for thousands of years.

Whereas others natural resources are reducing with the passage of time. He said that the people of his country prefer shifting to solar energy. A many companies in the area of solar energy are operatio nal in Austria and can help Pakistan as well in the projects.  In the welcome address, the vice chancellor said that electricity to be produced from the solar project on-grid will cost Rs3.17 per unit at the average for the next 12 years. He said that it is totally foreign-funded project. The UAF consumes the energy of 2 MW. He said that it would have 21 acre solar green houses invested by the company for the construction of green houses to promote the technology. He said that it would be the largest green houses not only in Asia but in Europe as well. 

Dean Dr M Iqbal said Pakistan was lying on the solar belt and is suitable for the solar energy (5.5 - 6 kWh/m2/day). He said that renewable energy can move the country from its present status to become a truly global industry collaboration between government and businesses. He said that UAF had also designed and installed biogas tube-well system and off grid power generation (15 KV) for solving the problems of farmers.

He said the university had also launched first degree programmes of Energy System Engineering, and Environmental Engineering aiming at producing a pool of professionals who would serve the sector.

Dr Jalal Arif said that the university was taking all tangible steps in the energy sector in order to make the homeland self sufficient in the electricity. He hoped that the solar energy project will also help in this regard.  Gerhard Huber said that 40,000 villages in Pakistan were out of electricity and added that with the promotion of solar energy, the issue can be addressed.