Research Analyst, PAGE
Oct 18 - 24, 2010
Wind power plants are being built in Jhimpir, Gharo, Keti Bandar, and Bin Qasim in Sindh province. The government of Pakistan decided to develop wind power energy sources due to supply shortfall in southern coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan. The project was undertaken with assistance from the government of China.
Another area with potential is Swat which shows good wind conditions and investors would prefer to collaborate with local administrations once law and order situation in the area improves.
In October 2008, a Turkish company was reportedly close to completing the first windmill in Pakistan.
Five wind turbines in Jhimpir, 70km from Karachi, are being developed by Zorlu Enerji Pakistan the local subsidiary of a Turkish company. Total cost of the project is $110 million.
Zorlu Enerji is reported to have completed five wind turbines in Jhimpir, each capable of producing 1.2 megawatts of electricity. Though initially six megawatt electricity will be produced by the company, the project will be expanded to 50MW in the next few years.
Recently, alternative energy development board (AEDB) issued four letters of intent for wind power projects, three for 50 MW and one for 2.4 MW. AEDB is currently facilitating twenty (20) projects having a capacity of 50 MW each, which are at different stages of development. One IPP has signed a contract with international turbine manufacturer for the supply of equipment for their project. One company has installed six MW in the first phase of 50 MW project. Feasibility studies for 50 MW wind power projects have been completed by two IPPs taking the total to 14 completed feasibility studies.
Wind energy is sustainable in the coastal areas of Pakistan along with Swat in the north. Wind turbines for homes are also viable that can produce energy.
A cheaper alternative to solar cells is under development in the US called "Tubular Energy" which is used to capture the sunlight and costs less to maintain than the solar cells.
Hydroelectric power generated from water is one of the best recourse for a country like Pakistan. Nature has endowed Pakistan with one of the highest terrain on earth to take advantage of the potential energy and converting it into useful power by construction of hydropower dams. China's biggest dam, the "Three Gorges Dam", produce an equivalent of 22,500 MW of electricity, which is more than the need of the entire country of Pakistan.
Pakistan is currently facing a power shortage that is caused not only by poor vision and planning but also factors of moral depravity amongst the ruling elite. Pakistan has enough power plants to produce energy for the entire country. The capacity more or less is there with the IPPs and the so-called rental power stations. But, the exorbitant amount of fuel costs that go with it to light up the entire country is non-sustainable. Fossil fuels are therefore an energy resource of the dark ages and we have to come out of it.
Coupled with the issue of circular debt, the power crisis takes a more serious turn when we imagine how the industry is suffering day in and day out because of the lack of power. Millions of jobs are lost in the process putting an even more drain on the country's prosperity. It has been reported that many textile units in Pakistan are relocating to Bangladesh to take advantage of the cheap electricity and access to international markets. It has also been reported that the IPPs in Bangladesh cost less per unit than Pakistan.
Pakistan has a huge amount of coal reserves in the Thar desert area which we can also exploit till the time alternative sources of energy become common. The US is massively utilising its coal reserves to produce electricity and Pakistan can do the same.
Developing Thar's coal reserves and producing electricity would also result in the uplift of the local Thar economy and part of the benefit should be given to the local town's people in Thar by giving them access to free electricity. If Pakistan can utilise its own sources of energy and become a net energy exporting nation by minimising the use of fossil fuels and maximising the potential of alternative energy sources. The country can also save a lot of much needed foreign exchange resulting from the repatriation of profits by IPPs and savings resulting from less import of fossil fuel for energy production.
The policymakers of Pakistan have so far failed to understand the importance and benefits of alternate energy sources such as solar, windmill energy etc; they are cheap and quick methods for producing electricity. Solar energy is available in most cities year-round. Similarly, wind energy is readily available in the coastal areas. These energy sources if tapped can be of great help in reducing the current demand supply gap.
The future is very bright for Pakistan and energy is no obstacle. It is imperative that policymakers grab the opportunity through greater transparency, honest intent, good vision, and hard work in the right (alternative sources of energy) areas of energy development.