By Raziq Ali Shah
The rising sun of 2018 will harbinger to make Pakistan free from power load-shedding forever, ushering a new era of socio-economic prosperity in the country.
In modern economy, electricity is playing as significant role as oxygen in human life. “A human life cannot survive without inhaling oxygen and without electricity a modern economy cannot flourish,” an economic expert said.
The incumbent government inherited the power load-shedding with its inception in 2013. However, the pragmatic steps of government to overcome the energy crisis would not only end the power load-shedding but also usher a new era of progress and prosperity in the country.
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government since coming into power put power crisis atop in its agenda to cope with power shortage which had badly crippled the economic growth of the country besides affecting the common people.
Minister of State for Water and Power Chaudhary Abid Sher Ali says that electricity shortage was 7,000 MW during assuming the charge by the present government in 2013. However, long and short term measures were taken immediately to address the energy crisis as per the PML-N’s election manifesto, he said.
Abid said that owing to the untiring efforts of the PML-N leadership, the government attracted $46 billion foreign investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Out of the total agreed investment, some $34 billion is being invested in energy related projects, which would not only help overcome the existing energy crisis being faced by the country but would produce surplus electricity, he added.
The minister said some 17,045 megawatts electricity would be generated through these projects spreading across the country which would help in leading the nation towards self-sufficiency in energy production.
He said that around 7,000 MW electricity has been generated and added to the national system. Out of which 474 MW electricity was added in 2013, 1422 MW in, 2014, 717 MW in 2015, 920 MW in 2016 and 3450 MW till June 2017.
Abid Sher Ali said the additional projects of 2250 MW capacity would be completed till 2018. While giving the details, he said, work on 600 MW Engro Thar Coal project also continued on fast track which would produce 300 MW electricity by 2017 and additional 300 MW by 2018.
The projects included LNG based plants in Bhikki (800 MW), CHASHNUPP-IV (315 MW), LNG based Plants in Balloki (800 MW), Port Qasim Power Project Unit-1 (660 MW), Patrind Hydropower Project 147 (MW), Tarbela 4th Unit -1 (470 MW), Golen Hol, M/s United Energy Pakistan etc.
According to the Ministry officials, in the month of July 715 MW, August 547 MW, September 400 MW, November 15.89MW and 2451 MW would be added to the national grid. As many as 300 MW would be added in the national grid from Salt Range Mine Mouth Power Project by end of 2018 while the Hubco would give 660 MW to national grid by 2018.
Work on Thar Block-I has also been initiated to produce 660 MW electricity by 2018 and additional 660 MW after 2018 as 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Dam, 720 MW Krote Hydro Power Project and 870 MW Sukhi Kinari Hydro Power projects of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also in pipeline and were included in CPEC.
Many other energy projects are also part of the CPEC but these would be initiated after 2018 as Tarbela 4th and 5th extension powers would add 2820 MW cheaper hydel electricity to the national grid. With the addition of Tarbela 4th and 5th Extension projects, the total generation capacity of Tarbela would cross over 6000 MW. Tarbela 4th extension project was near to completion while tender for 5th extension had already been floated.
Other than CPEC projects, China has invested in many other energy projects including 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project, which would start electricity generation of 969 MW from March, 31, 2018.To tap hydel generation potential in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the federal government has vigorously pursuing mega projects including 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha and 4320 MW Dasu dams.
Diamer Bhasha Dam (4500 MW):
For this important project, maximum land has already been acquired as the total land to be acquired for the project 37,419 acres (19,062 acres non compensable Government land and 18,357 acres compensable private land) adding that 7,990 acres private land had already been acquired in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Under Pre-Construction and Re-Settlement activities, construction of office building at Chilas had already been completed. The PC 1 of the Diamer Basha Dam Project (DBDP) is Rs.894.257 billion with Rs.312.943 billion foreign exchange component. The DBDP is proposed to be located on the Indus River 315 km (195 miles) upstream of Tarbela Dam site about 180 km (113 miles) below the town of Gilgit and about 40 km (24 miles) downstream of Chilas, the district headquarter of Diamer in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Dasu Dam (4320 MW):
The WAPDA has almost finalized all arrangements to start physical work on this important project shortly. The 4320 MW-Dasu Hydropower Project is being constructed by WAPDA on River Indus upstream of Dasu Town in Kohistan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
The project will be completed in two stages – each stage having a generation capacity of 2160 MW. Stage-I of Dasu Hydropower Project which will be completed in almost five years and contribute more than 12 billion units per annum to the national grid. The Stage-II, after its completion, will also provide another 9 billion units to the system every year.
The project is being constructed by leveraging WAPDA’s financial strength. Out of US$ 4.2 billion required for completion of Stage-I of Dasu Hydropower Project, the World Bank (IDA) is providing a credit of US$ 824 million while the rest of the amount is being arranged by WAPDA from various commercial sources and its own revenue surplus.
At present, some 29 million acres feet (MAF) wasted every year due to non-availability of water storage facilities in the country. Currently, there are only two major reservoirs Tarbela and Mangla to store water and no major dam was constructed during the last few decades.
Kacchi Canal Project:
In view of the significance of Kachhi Canal for development of agriculture in backward areas of Balochistan, WAPDA is committed to complete Phase-I by August to irrigate 72,000 acres of virgin land in the remote areas of Dera Bugti.
Kachhi Canal is a vital project to ensure economic development and social uplift in the far flung areas of Balochistan by promoting agriculture and agro-based economy.
The project was long-delayed due to a number of impediments, however, in the aftermath of August 2016, concerted efforts were made to resolve the issues relating to implementation of the project, and the project is heading towards its completion with a satisfactory construction pace. A sum of Rs 57 billion has been spent on the project while Rs.47 billion more is required for its completion.
Meanwhile, President Renewable and Alternate Energy Association of Pakistan (REAP), Asif Jah, said that China has once again proved its sincere friendship by taking measures to rid Pakistan of energy crisis. Owing to the prudent economic policies, China has become an economic power in the world and the historic economic package of China is a gift for Pakistan, which would be remembered for ever.
REAP Biodiesel Coordinator, Rana Tauseef Iqbal, said that during the tenure of the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, a new epoch of Pak-China friendship has started and the relations between the two countries have been transformed into fruitful economic ties. The CPEC would open new avenues of progress and prosperity while the energy projects initiated under it would pull the country out of dark.
Similarly, the credit also goes to the PML-N government to introduce the novel idea to sell extra electricity by the consumers to power distribution companies at lucrative rates through net-metering. Following successful models of several western and eastern countries, the governments ultimately introduced this technology to facilitate power-producing customers and help overcome the unending power deficit in the country.
“Net metering is an innovative and immediate solution to current power shortages. The IESCO is country’s first power distribution company, which is offering opportunities to both commercial and domestic customers to generate electricity through solar panels and sell their surplus electricity” said Chief Executive Officer Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) Basit Zaman.
He said that IESCO was getting encouraging response from the general public as 50 connections of net-metering having 2MW accumulative capacity had been energized in the short span of time. Those who have started to avail this opportunity include Parliament House and Engineering Council of Pakistan, while many such requests were under the process.
Meanwhile, the Renewable Energy (RE) sector has attracted foreign investment of over $3 billion during the last one year which clearly indicates investment potential in this particular sector and the outcome of the initiatives taken so far to exploit such resources for the betterment of the country.
“Owing to the potential, robust policy framework, lucrative tariff structures and bankable security documents, Pakistan has become a choicer investment destination for private investors,” said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) Amjad Awan.
He said pragmatic steps were taken to harness the available renewable energy potential, diversify its energy mix and ensure energy security and sustainable development in the country.
He observed that owing to the promotion and development of RE technology in the country, a record investment has been witnessed in just one year, revealing the interest of investors in this sector.
The CEO said that detailed resource assessment of wind, solar and biomass was carried out in the country through ESMAP’s (World Bank) assistance. Ground installations for measuring of solar irradiation have also been made in several parts of the country, he added.
Amjad said that the AEDB has issued over 25 Letter of Interest (LoI) to various solar projects having 663 MW accumulative capacity so far adding that all these projects would attain commercial operations date (COD) by 2018. The Punjab government has also issued LOI for 600 MW projects so far while the financing for 300 MW solar power project has already been done.
He said AEDB was also pursuing 35 solar PV power projects of cumulative capacity of approximately 1111.44 MW On-Grid Solar PV power plants. Three solar power projects of cumulative capacity of “300 MW” have signed EPA and IA and were under construction, he said. These projects included M/s Appolo Solar Pakistan Ltd (100 MW), M/s Crest Energy Pakistan Ltd (100 MW) and M/s Best Green Energy Pakistan Ltd (100 MW) located all at Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, Bahawalpur.
Amjad informed that some 250 MW solar projects were also included in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Presently, there was no laboratory for testing the standard of solar PV panels. However, PC-1 had been prepared in collaboration with ministry of science and technology for setting up three testing laboratories in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, he said.
All these measures once materialized would pave way to steer country out of darkness and ushering in new era of industrial and agricultural growth to stabilize country’s economy and create job opportunities for Pakistani youth.