Pakistan Pursues Wind Power Generation
The Asian Development Bank has agreed to a loan to help fund the first privately owned and financed wind farm in Pakistan. The output from the plant will provide much-needed additional power for Pakistan, improve the country’s energy security, and lower reliance on fossil fuels. Zorlu Enerji Electrik Uretim, will use the $36.8 million loan to install wind turbines to increase the output of its wind farm – located in the southern Sindh province, 100 kilometers northeast of Pakistan’s commercial hub of Karachi – from the current 6 megawatts to a total of 56.4 megawatts. The existing 6 megawatt wind farm project is currently selling power to the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company. Once the second construction phase is complete – expected in 2012 – the 56.4 megawatt wind farm will supply power to the national grid through a 20-year take-or-pay power purchase agreement with the National Transmission and Dispatch Company. The approved tariff will ensure that the electricity is priced competitively, with the rate dropping over time as project debt is paid down.
Pakistan has entered into another agreement to build a $375 million wind farm to produce 150 megawatts of electricity near Karachi, its largest industrial city, according to a report in the Express Tribune. It is scheduled to be completed in two years by AES Corporation, a US company, with assistance from US Agency for International Development. The project would be set up at three sites in the Gharo Corridor in Thatta district of Sindh.
FFC Energy, a subsidiary of Pakistan's Fauji Fertilizer Company, is also building a 50 MW wind farm in Jhimpir near Karachi, at a cost of $130 million, according to Reuters. Nordex AG announced that it has signed a contract with FFC Energy Limited, Rawalpindi, for the delivery of a 50 megawatts (MW) wind farm. Known as Jhimpir, the wind farm is to be built in the province of Sindh, where Pakistan is planning to establish new capacity of around 4,600 megawatts. The average wind speed at the site of the planned project is 7.8 meters per second. FFC has therefore opted for the Nordex S77/1500 series, which is specially designed for medium-strong wind conditions. Nordex AG will be supplying hot climate versions of the turbines, which are to be produced at its facilities in China. The 33 turbines are to be delivered soon after tariff approval from NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) and signing of the energy purchase agreement. Nordex has obtained a Letter of Intent for another 100 MW of wind farms from the government.
Pakistan is fortunate to have something many other countries do not, which are high wind speeds near major population centers, according to data published by Miriam Katz of Environmental Peace Review.
Near Islamabad, the wind speed is anywhere from 6.2 to 7.4 meters per second (between 13.8 and 16.5 miles per hour). Near Karachi, the range is between 6.2 and 6.9 (between 13.8 and 15.4 miles per hour).
In Balochistan and Sindh provinces, sufficient wind exists to power every coastal village in the country. There also exists a corridor between Gharo and Keti Bandar that alone could produce between 40,000 and 50,000 megawatts of electricity, says Ms. Katz who has studied and written about alternative energy potential in South Asia. Given this surplus potential, Pakistan has much to offer Asia with regards to wind energy. In recent years, the government has completed several projects to demonstrate that wind energy is viable in the country. In Mirpur Sakro, 85 micro turbines have been installed to power 356 homes. In Kund Malir, 40 turbines have been installed, which power 111 homes. The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has also acquired 18,000 acres for building wind farms.
In addition to high wind speeds near major centers as well as the Gharo and Keti Bandar corridor, Pakistan is also very fortunate to have many rivers and lakes. Wind turbines that are situated in or near water enjoy an uninterrupted flow of wind, which virtually guarantees that power will be available all the time. Within towns and cities, wind speeds can often change quickly due to the presence of buildings and other structures, which can damage wind turbines. In addition, many people do not wish for turbines to be sited near cities because of noise, though these problems are often exaggerated.
Pakistan's Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is trying to boost local private investment in alternative energy by offering incentives and access to wind turbine makers and operators such as Siemens, Nordex SE, Coolwind, SWEG and General Electric, according to Reuters.
Nordex in March agreed to supply Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) with turbines for a 50 MW farm in the southern Sindh province.
To attract private investors, AEDB's Arif Alauddin said the government is guaranteeing an annual rate of return of up to 18 percent and will pay power producers if the wind blows below an annual average of 7.3 meters per second.
AEDB has already allocated land for 18 independent power producers for wind power projects of 50 MW each. The U.S. Agency for International Development has plans to help Pakistan develop wind farms to generate 300 MW by the end of 2014.
"You cannot expect changes overnight. It'll take time. But we believe some 10,000 MW would be coming through wind in the next five to 10 years," Alauddin told Reuters.
AEDB is carrying out national wind mapping for possible farms in other locations such as southwestern Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
While 250 MW of windpower is very modest to fill the current supply-demand power gap of thousands of megawatts, it does represent a good start toward serious use of renewables to generate electricity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty about cost, availability and environmental impact of hydrocarbons, it is important for Pakistan to rapidly diversify into renewables such as water, wind and sun.
Here's a video of Late Ambassador Holbrooke signing a wind-farm funding agreement with Pakistan in November, 2010:
Here's a video report on Pakistan's first windfarm near Karachi:
Here's a CNBC Pakistan video on KESC's power projects:
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