Oct 3 - 9, 20

Wind energy is considered not only cost effective, but also a sustainable power source globally. The developed and developing economies are encouraging setups of wind power plants to meet their energy needs in the wake of depleting reserves of oil and gas.

Fortunately, Pakistan is blessed with windy corridors in its highland and coastal regions. The wind density and speeds in these areas are suitable for small to large scales wind power projects.

Several local and international reports have confirmed the massive wind energy potential in the country. In particular, Sindh has vastly rich untapped wind resources that statistics signify if fully tapped can fulfil the energy demands of the whole country besides making it an energy exporting nation.

The government's claim about the province having 60 kilometre long and 170 kilometre deep off the coastline Gharo-Kati Bandar wind corridor has been added with a substance by a detailed survey conducted by Pakistan metrological department (PMD) in collaboration with the ministry of science and technology.

However, the wind mapping project estimated total area of wind corridor at 9,700 sqKm, gross wind power potential at 43,000 megawatts, and exploitable wind power potential at 11,000 megawatts. Contrasting regions in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for which separate studies were conducted, the locations in Sindh and Balochistan were marked excellent for wind farms.

The project was commendable in its expansiveness and scope covering all basic aspects including potential-laden sites, prospective volume of energy, and technical barriers that may drain on resources throughout year from January to December.

Sindh and Balochistan were the points in focus and significant area of 11,000km long and 100km (northward from coast) in breadth along the coastline came in the wind mapping. The observatories included Badin, Baghan, Chuhar Jamali, Karachi, Gharo, Golarchi, Hawksbay, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Jati, Kati Bandar, Matli, MirPurSakro, Nooriabad, Sajawal, Shah Bandar, Talhar, Thano Bula Khan, and Thatta.

Wind speed and density were measured at different heights at all these sites under observation. As per the international classification, resource potential is ranked as marginal, moderate, good, and excellent. Speed above 7 meter per second at 30 meters heights ranks excellent according to international standard. Wind speeds at Jamshoro, Kati Bandar, and Nooriabad were marked excellent as they were recorded blowing over 7m/s speed in these locations.

Other parts of the country also have the areas that may be suitable for the wind energy setups. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA had marked three sites of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comprising of Jahangeera, Khyber Agency, Mehmand Agency as suitable for wind energy farms. Notably, PMD in its wind-mapping project for KPK later declared these sites unsuitable based on the measurements of wind speed and density. The complicated topography thins out gust in the region and there was recorded a high degree of wind variations, the department concluded.

A scientific investigation at Kallar Kahar region of Chakwal, Punjab found out identical outcomes citing the site marginal because of low wind density.

Cross verification of these observatories may bring about different results as was happened when international markings over KPK's wind resources were rejected by a local agency. However, two separate studies have highlighted the inimitability of Gharo or in general Sindh for maximum exploitation of wind resources.

Wind energy resources are being exploited at domestic level, but no mega project in view of the potential has come on the surface as yet. Zolru is the only renewable energy generation company in the province generating wind electricity on commercial basis. Its volume of production is neither significant. The Turkish company has installed turbines with a combined generation capacity of six megawatts at Jhampir. Alternative energy development board said there were more than 21 wind power projects operational in Sindh. They have yet to contribute towards reducing stark national energy deficit.

The renewable energy sector has visible attractions for local and foreign investors. On the face of it, policy for development of renewable energy sector for power generation sounds attractive to investors. For example, guarantee to buying of electricity from green sources, exemption of import duties on equipments, and waiver of various taxes are some of the incentives that can beacon huge investments into the sector.

Tariff determination is said to be an unresolved issue with green power suppliers demanding rates equivalent to that paid to independent power producers (IPPs). If somehow the issue might have been resolved, they would be scared out of their wits at the prospect of dealing with the similar stubborn clients that stopped payments to IPPs under some pretext or other.

High cost of imported engineering equipments also discourages enterprising companies as well as household consumers to install wind turbines to meet their power needs.

While commercial users take the bitter pills of cost impact to prevent the loss of working hours in view of power outages, not every individual can afford the luxury of generating wind electricity.

Domestic consumers in few posh areas in Karachi have wind turbines installed to make up for discontinuity in electricity supply. But, the cost of wind turbine is still too prohibitive to make itself popular replacements of back-up energy devices such as electricity generator or UPS.

To make wind energy a viable alternative for commercial and domestic users, there is obviously a need of local manufacturing that should provide a quality alternative to imported gadgets.

Foreign investors have expressed their interest in setting up turbine manufacturing plants in the province after unquestionably realising the wind energy potentials. Unfortunately, no major foreign investments have been made into the manufacturing of wind turbines and equipments. Hyundai Corporation has expressed its intention to the Sindh government to set up manufacturing plant in the country. The government needs to build confidence of investors by ensuring implementation of policies.