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Pakistan has massive prospect in wind power: Time to take action

China faced higher energy shortages than Pakistan even then its economy grew at a very rapid pace. China has settled the power deficit by exploring wind power capacity in less than eight years. China continued increasing its wind power capacities, adding over 6,000MW in 2008, 12,000MW in 2009 and 20,000MW in 2014.

China and India accelerated their wind energy capacity while Pakistan failed to make any phenomenal gain. Despite having less potential for wind as compared to Pakistan, India is the world’s fourth largest wind-power market and the fifth largest wind power producer in the world after Germany, the USA, Denmark and the UK. The wind energy potential in India has been estimated at 45,000MW. India is also one of the world’s biggest wind power users.

Tax incentives have helped make India one of the fastest-growing markets for wind power, a major component of renewable energy. India has the world’s fourth largest number of wind turbines installed. The number stands at 7,093MW according to recent report. Wind power technologies are now available in India. Wind electric generators up to 750kW unit capacities are now being manufactured while blades, an essential component of wind turbines, are manufactured in India.

MISERY FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan requires 20,000MW of electricity per day. It is estimated that Pakistan is suffering a loss of over $10 billion every year due to power shortage. For the last several years, public is worried about the electricity shortage due to 5 to 12 hours of daily load-shedding. However, over the last five years, power reduction has crossed 19 hours a day. Due to serious power crisis, industrial production particularly textile production is suffering, exports are declining and unemployment is increasing and the overall economy is in a critical condition.

Pakistan has the potential of producing approximately 150,000MW of power from wind energy sources. Data based on preliminary site surveys carried out by Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) and Pakistan Meteorological Department have indicated that, coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces and some northern areas possess adequate wind resources.

The official reports identify that in Sindh province, district Thatta, Karachi, Hyderabad and Badin and in Balochistan, district Gwadar and Makran Coastal Belt possess prospective sites for development, installation and commissioning of wind farm projects. Thatta corridor presents a good wind resource and theoretically over 48,000MW can be generated there.

Official documents reveal that the wind power potential in the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan is more than 50,000MW, while Punjab at Kalar Kahar has a wind corridor capable of producing 1,000 MW. A great deal of potential exists for generating over 1000 megawatts of electricity from wind in the north and south of the province. Wind technology potential in Punjab is greater than in Sindh area of Jampir.

Pakistan is lucky to have a substantial amount of wind which many other countries do not have. Around the capital Islamabad, wind speed ranges between 6.2 to 7.4 meters per second (between 13.8 and 16.5 miles per hour). Likewise, in the commercial city of Karachi, the range is between 6.2 and 6.9 (between 13.8 and 15.4 miles per hour). In addition to Karachi and Islamabad, there are other areas in Pakistan that experience an abundant amount of wind.

BENEFITS OF WIND ENERGY

Experts are of the opinion that the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh have sufficient wind supply to power every coastal village in the country. Wind energy has a number of advantages arising out of its production. It is a pollution-free and does not require fuel. It doesn’t create greenhouse gases.

It does not produce toxic or radioactive waste products. Wind energy is noise-free and does not present any significant danger to birds or wildlife.

The expected life of wind turbine is 25 to 30 years. Maintenance is required once or twice a year.

The main challenges facing in the production of wind power are production and availability of wind turbines, safety and security of turbines, transmission lines to feed the national grid, capital cost of the project and long-term maintainability of the project.

The returns from investments in wind energy sector are very much dependent on government policies, both in terms of provided incentives and the taxation structure imposed on businesses.

In any case launching of wind power generation is totally subjugated to the political leadership of the country to pull its masses out of the shadow of load shedding.

Wind energy is a fast and cheap solution. This program should be given the same priority as Pakistan’s nuclear program was once accorded.

Wind power projects take priority over coal in Pakistan. Pakistan and China have signed around $57 billion of energy and infrastructure projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan is beginning to gain the benefits of Chinese investment in renewable energy infrastructure, with the opening of the first wind power project constructed as part of the huge China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, aimed at overhauling the country’s transport and energy systems.

 

The nearly 50-megawatt wind farm is located on over 680 acres (275 hectares) of land in Jhimpir, near the shores of the picturesque Keenjhar Lake, around two hours’ drive from the city of Karachi.

Jhimpir is part of the so-called “Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor” in Sindh province; a 180 kilometer (110 mile) stretch of coastal land that the Pakistan Meteorological Department says has the potential to produce 11,000MW of electricity through wind power.

The corridor is home to Pakistan’s earliest wind project, which began in 2009 with just a few turbines and was upgraded to an installed capacity of 56 MW by 2012.

FUTURE PLANS AND INVESTMENT

The new wind farm, which opened last month, has been developed by Sachal Energy Development, with financing from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor, mapped in 2013 by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, contains vast stretches of saline land, unsuitable for agriculture and dotted only with a few bushes.

In June, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced that it will provide $66 million, and mobilize a further $172 million, to help build three 50MW wind power projects in the Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor. The World Bank has now started mapping Pakistan’s entire wind potential, looking at wind corridors in Punjab as well.

IFC is the largest private-sector investor in power in Pakistan and is focusing on hydro, wind and solar projects. It is estimated that there are more than 2,000MW of mid- to large-scale wind and hydro projects in the pipeline.

The wind projects include feed-in tariffs, which make them attractive to investors by guaranteeing payments for the electricity produced. China’s Three Gorges Wind Farm Pakistan project with installed capacity of 100 megawatts, however, is likely to be completed by September 2018.

Regarding the current status of this project, the sources revealed that letters of support have been issued by AEDB while security documents (EPA, IA and direct agreement) have also been signed.

Three other wind power projects of 100 megawatts each had already been completed and they are producing energy.

Pakistan is ready for deriving uses of Chinese investment in renewable energy infrastructure with the opening of construction of first wind power project under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor overhauling transport and energy systems of Pakistan. The success of the project sets a good example for the construction of CPEC and the Belt and Road initiative.

The project comprises 33 wind turbine generators manufactured by Goldwind of China whereas HydroChina is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) as well as operation and maintenance (O&M) contractor of the project. It is the first project that has received Sinosure-backed financing and has been 100 percent financed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

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