Pakistan may have a seat at all the world’s great conferences and appear at first glance to be a fully developed front tier nation. But first appearances can be deceptive. It is still a developing nation and has recently attracted a lot of attention from the renewable energy industry due to its lack of energy infrastructure and its urgent need to step up in terms of power supply for its people and its industries. That may have tempted Pakistan to take the easy option and go for oil and fossil fuels. But no- there are a lot of plans and a lot of wind projects in the pipeline. Could this be the beginning of a golden green future for Pakistan?
Pakistan’s cumulative wind power capacity at the end of October last year stood at just a paltry 105.9 MW. However, the country has added around 100 MW in the last two months with an extra 50 MW of wind capacity expected to be connected to the grid by the end of this month.
There are two latest addition to Pakistan’s wind farm capacity. It comes from the Foundation Wind Energy Limited I and II projects, each of 50 MW. They will use Nordex turbines. The first farm was connected to the grid in December, the second will be connected in a few days time. The place for both wind farms is Kutti Kun, near the port city of Karachi at Gharo in Sindh province. The plan is for the farms to sell electricity to Pakistan’s national grid under a 20-year contract. The projects are being sponsored by a number of companies including Fauji Foundation, Fauji Fertlizer Bin Qasim Ltd, the Islamic Infrastructure Fund. The Asian Development Bank is coordinating the sponsors and assuring that the government of Pakistan will continue to support both projects throughout their entire life cycles.
What else has been going on in Pakistan wind-related projects? Two months ago the Chinese state-owned hydropower developer China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) completed the building of the 49.5 MW Three Gorges wind farm at Jhimpir, which co-incidentally is also in Sindh province. The Three Gorges farm has 33 wind turbines of 1.5 MW each, manufactured by Goldwind, the major Chinese turbine producer.
But Pakistan has been a late starter in commissioning wind farms. Its first wind park was only connected to the grid in 2012. It too was in Sindh province noted for its excellent wind resource) and was of just under 50MW, using Nordex wind turbines.
In 2013, Pakistan added a further 50.4 MW of wind power capacity. The turbines used were 28 Vestas 1.8-MW wind turbines, and were installed at the Jhimpir wind farm also located at the Sindh province.
There is more to come: In March 2013, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation approved $95 million in financing a 50-MW wind farm at the Ghoro-Keti Bandar wind corridor, south-eastern Pakistan. It is called the Sapphire wind farm and will use 33 General Electric (GE) turbines. This should start production of electricity in 2016. OPIC has also approved a credit facility of $101.5 million for an additional 49.5-MW wind energy project located at Sindh, for which GE machines are also going to be used. The project will be constructed, owned and operated by the Dewan Energy Group. On top of this there are as yet undisclosed plans by foreign companies eager to take part in Pakistan’s wind revolution. The country’s existing energy mix consists of about 50 percent natural gas, 30 percent oil, 8 percent coal, 11 percent hydro, 0.9 percent nuclear and only a tiny 0.1 percent renewable energy sources. The government has a target of installing 2700 MW of renewable power plants by 2015 — this is about 10 percent of its energy needs — but is very distant from this goal. Observers blame corruption, high inflation, limited financing from its own banks, a poor quality national grid and obsolete and out-dated government management systems. All this makes investment in Pakistan wind power, despite its natural wind corridor in Sindh, very risky.