As Pakistan grapples with energy shortages, its neighboring countries are consistently adding wind power to its national grid. China has added 62,000 megawatts since 2001 and India 11,500 MW, while Pakistan’s first 50MW wind power projects started production only this year.
Power sector expert Mohsin Syed said India and China faced even higher energy shortages than Pakistan as their economies grew at a very rapid pace, increasing their domestic and industrial power. Their economies would have been in same dire state as that of Pakistan, had their planners showed similar lethargy as exhibited by Pakistani power planners, he added.
He said according to the Global Wind Energy Council data India entered the new millennium with an installed wind power capacity of 220 MW only. He said the Indian economy was on move and their planner hurried to add 1,256 MW in 2001 and by 2006 they had an operative wind power generation capacity of 6,270 MW. He said in the next six year, they added 10,000 MW wind energy and are sitting on cumulative wind power of 1,6370 MW.
Syed said China increased awesome wind power capacity in less than eight years. He said in 2001, total installed wind power in China was 404 MW that at the end of 2012 stood at 6,2364 MW.
In other words, he added the Chinese only through wind power have added three times more power generation capacity than the entire power generation capacity of Pakistan. Now, they are producing huge zero cost electricity (excluding initial financial cost that would be paid off in few years).
He said it is worth noting that till 2007 India was far ahead of China in wind power generation when it was producing only 5,871 MW of wind power against India’s 7,845 MW. The Chinese, however, continued multiplying its capacities in next three years, adding over 6,000 MW in 2008, 12,000 MW in 2009 and 20,000 MW in 2009. They exploited every wind corridor easily accessible in China and are now targeting difficult terrains, he added.
Energy expert Mian Fazal said that Pakistan’s first wind power plant of 50 MW was inaugurated in December 2012 and started full production this year. He said wind power potential of the country has long been identified but the regulators never bothered to remove the bottlenecks that irritate investors.
He said official documents reveal that the wind power potential in the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan is more than 50,000 MW, while Punjab at Kalan Kahar has a wind corridor capable of producing 1,000 MW.
Engineering entrepreneur Almas Hyder said that five years back he negotiated a piece of land near Pakistan Steel Mill, and was talking to an Iranian supplier for the equipments needed for 6.5 MW plant.
He said he then requested the authorities to wheel the power produced to his industries located in Lahore. He said that the authorities said that there are no rules for wheeling. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, he added, has not fully spelled the tariff for wind power project.
He said numerous private sector investors from power-starved Punjab will line up to invest in wind power if the wheeling of power is allowed. He said this simply means that the power produced at coastal area is provided to the National Transmission and Distribution Company that should be guaranteed to be available to the investors’ manufacturing facility from supplies in upcountry.
Energy experts point out that increasing power capacity is a capital intensive and time consuming job. The hydroelectric projects take between 5 to 15 years for completion and the costs are high.
The thermal projects could be made operational in 3 to 4 years. The project cost is relatively much lower but if the fuel used is furnace oil or diesel the operational cost is prohibitive.
Coal-based power plants are relatively cheaper, which could be operational in 3,048 months at half the cost of furnace oil.
The wind power plants can be installed in shortest period of 12 to 18 months and the major cost is the price of the land. The running cost of these power generation plants is almost zero as they are run on wind.