Pakistan and the US cooperate on wind energy

The power of wind was invoked Sunday in one of the world’s most troubled nations when Pakistan and the US agreed on a public-private partnership to develop a 150-MW wind power facility capable of creating enough electricity for 600,000 local homes.

“This wind farm project represents a meaningful, environmentally sound step toward addressing Pakistan’s energy crisis,” Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in a press release.

“Partnership with the private sector will also demonstrate the potential of investing in the power sector in Pakistan.”

The press release states the two governments along with American power company AES Corporation will develop the $375-million wind power generation project in Pakistan’s Gharo Corridor, west of Karachi.

The wind turbines project — the first US wind power partnership with Pakistan — is expected to reduce the south Asian nation’s dependence on imported fuel, saving citizens $45 million annually. Set up in three different sites, the project is expected to completed in two years.

With about 185 million citizens, Pakistan has, according to the CIA World Factbook, the six largest population in the world. In terms of the size of its territory, Pakistan ranks 36th globally. The impoverished nation — which, like its neighbour India, has nuclear weapons — is still recovering from recent flooding and is trying to deal with militant terrorist groups.

The press release noted that Sunday’s agreement follows US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement in October that progress was being made toward developing a public-private partnership to “draw on the potential of winds that blow down the Pakistani coastline.”

The agreement, signed by Pakistan Ministry of Water and Power Secretary Javed Iqbal, will see the nation owning a minority share in the project.

According to The Express Tribune, Holbrooke said the completion of the project would also encourage the international community to invest in wind power in Pakistan, helping to resolve the nation’s acute energy crisis.

Iqbal said Pakistan has great potential in the alternative energy sector, the newspaper added.

“Pakistan’s coastal belt is spread over hundreds of kilometres and is very windy throughout the year,” The Express Tribune reported. “According to rough estimates, the country has a potential to generate up to 50,000 megawatts of electricity by exploiting this source alone.”

By Chris Rose,