ADB moves to boost Pakistan?s wind energy capacity

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a loan to help fund the first privately owned wind farm in Pakistan, Zorlu Enerji Electrik Uretim. It will use the $36.8 million loan to install more wind turbines at the wind farm, raising power output from the current 6 megawatts (MW) to a total of 56.4 MW.

An ADB statement issued here on Thursday stated that the farm is located in the southern Sindh province, 100 kilometres northeast of Pakistan’s commercial hub of Karachi. The extra output will provide much-needed electricity for the economy, improve energy security and lower reliance on fossil fuels.

“Acute energy shortages, caused by low investment, are cutting into Pakistan’s economic growth,” said ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department Director Michael Barrow. “This deal should provide a bankable template for future privately funded wind energy projects and send a signal that Pakistan’s wind power sector is attractive for private sector investment and financing.”

Pakistan relies heavily on imported fossil fuels for the bulk of its energy needs however, this is costly, puts a heavy burden on its foreign exchange reserves, and leaves the country vulnerable to supply disruptions and global price fluctuations. Investment in new capacity has lagged demand which has surged by over 40 percent over the past five years, resulting in regular brownouts in all major urban centres and the introduction of power rationing. This has forced shops and industries to close early, undermining Pakistan’s economy.

The government of Pakistan is now undertaking a major drive to expand its energy sources, including tapping renewable energy resources such as wind. There are around 50,000 MW of wind power capacity available in the south of the country alone. Zorlu Enerji, listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, owns and operates Turkey’s largest wind farm and is 68 percent owned by Zorlu Holding AS, one of the largest conglomerates in Turkey.

“We estimate that five to seven projects will come on line following ADB’s support for Zorlu Enerji’s wind farm,” said ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department Senior Investment Specialist Siddhartha Shah.

Existing power generated by the wind farm is currently being dispatched to the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company. Once the second construction phase is complete–expected in 2013–the 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 tariff will be set at a competitive level with the rate dropping over time as project debt is paid down.

“The project will have multiple benefits including helping realise the government’s target of 6 percent renewable energy in the total power mix by 2030, while contributing to employment opportunities and economic growth in one of the poorest regions of the country,” said Shah.

The total cost of the project is $147 million with 30 percent financed through equity provided by Zorlu Enerji and the rest through US dollar-denominated loans from ADB, the International Finance Corporation, and ECO Trade and Development Bank, as well as a Pakistan rupee loan from Habib Bank. ADB’s loan will carry a tenor of 12 years with a 2-year grace period.

ADB has taken the lead in supporting the government of Pakistan’s efforts to attract private sector capital into the power sector. Initiatives include financing the country’s first private sector run-of-river hydropower project, the New Bong Escape Project in 2009, and the funding of three combined cycle power plants using domestic gas?Fauji Kabirwala Power Company Limited, Foundation Power Company Daharki Limited and Uch-II Power Private Limited.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2010, ADB approvals, including cofinancing, totalled $17.51 billion. In addition, ADB’s ongoing Trade Finance Programme supported $2.8 billion in trade.