Pakistan looks to wind energy

After Pakistan’s largest solar energy project failed to produce the desired results, the government is now looking to wind as a potential clean source of energy that could bridge the country’s power shortfall of around 7,000 megawatts during peak-demand in the summer months.
The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in the Cholistan desert was launched in March 2015, with Chinese-owned firm Zonergy Limited agreeing to invest $1.5 billion in Pakistan’s mega solar park, with a promise to complete the project, slated to produce 1,000 megawatts of energy, by June 2016. Currently, the park produces just 400 megawatts.
Pakistan’s rural areas often suffer blackouts of more than 12 hours a day while urban areas can experience up to eight hours a day without power.
But the government claims the situation has now improved, as thousands of additional megawatts have been added to the national grid.
Federal Minister for Power Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari told Arab News that Pakistan’s electricity demand is increasing at 8 to 10 percent each year, and can be met only through a sustainable energy mix, including wind power.
Currently, 15 wind power projects with a capacity of 788.5 megawatts are operational and providing electricity to the national grid, he said, adding that nine other wind-power projects with a capacity of 445 megawatts are under construction.
“Some new wind power projects of around 1,200 megawatts capacity are being planned, to be added by 2019-2020 through competitive bidding,” Leghari added.
The minister said that only two solar power projects of 30 megawatts cumulative capacity are under construction, explaining that the government is struggling to find investors for more such power projects.
Pakistan has installed all of its wind-energy projects in the Gharo-Jhampir wind corridor in Sindh province, a 180-kilometer stretch of coastal land around two hours’ drive from the port city of Karachi.
According to the World Bank, roughly 44 percent of households in Pakistan are not connected to the grid and more than 80 percent of those are in rural areas.
Mir Ahmad Shah, executive secretary of the Renewable and Alternative Energy Association of Pakistan, said the government’s focus on wind energy alone is “flawed” as “this is not a home-based solution like solar energy.”
Shah said that solar energy is the most viable power solution for off-grid as well as grid-connected areas because it does not require the government to spend large amounts of money to install transmission lines. However, he added, “Solar energy projects will not take off without private sector investment.”
Shah also suggested the government should introduce a uniform tariff policy.
Dr. Pervaiz Amir, a water and energy expert from Leadership for Environment and Development, told Arab News that Pakistan should focus on the diversification of its energy projects, as no single source of power could meet the country’s increasing demand.
“The government needs to lure private investment in wind and hydropower projects to diversify its electricity generation from clean energy resources,” he said.
He also suggested that as Pakistan gets approximately 330 sunny days out of 365 days in a year, the government should introduce net-metering to encourage rooftop solar installation at both domestic and commercial levels.