A windmill designed to generate 50 megawatts of electricity at Jhimpir near Thatta in Sindh will go into commercial production this month and its supply will be added to the national grid.

Inaugurating the project , some 144 kilometres from the commercial hub Karachi, President Asif Ali Zardari hoped that Gharo-Keti Bundar wind corridor, which is capable of producing 50,000MW electricity, would be fully utilised.

The country suffers from acute energy crisis which is among the main constraints in the country’s economic growth. Renewable energy is one of important options to make the country self-sufficient in its energy needs.

The country is mountainous and has a long coastline. The terrain is ideal for setting up windmill projects in its air corridors.

And the wind power generation capacity has been estimated at over 350GW.

The initial investment on such projects is usually high, but after their installation, the maintenance cost is very low. Another plus point is that wind power energy is environment-friendly. Power generated through windmills is also getting cost competitive as compared to those produced by plants run on expensive gas or furnace oil.

However, renewable energy resource is grossly under-utilised. In recent years, with deepening crisis and prohibitive fuel cost, some interest has been generated among policymakers and investors in the development of renewable energy resources.

At present, wind power plants are being installed at Jhimpir, Gharo, Keti Bandar and Bin Qasim in Sindh, which, to some extent, would reduce electricity shortage and help reduce the burden of costly oil imports.

Alternative Energy Board Chief Executive Officer Arif Allauddin said four more projects would follow the present green power farm set up by the FFCEL at a cost of about $135 million. “One launched by the Zorlu

Energy of Turkey will become operational this month, while the Three Gorges of China is working on another. Besides, two other farms of 100MW each will soon add 200MW electricity to the national grid,” he said.

“Moreover, a dozen more projects are expected to meet their financial close by the end of 2013, bringing about two-billion-dollar investment in the wind energy sector in Thatta district alone,” he added.

More than 106 megawatts electricity would be included in the national power transmission system from January when the wind energy projects of FFCEL and Zorlu Energy would become operational.

The fair category of wind speed in most parts of the world is between 6.2m/s and 6.9m/s. However, according to media report, the wind speed in the Sindh corridor is stronger and is in the category of 7.5m/s and 7.7m/s. The government plans to generate up to 2,500MW electricity from wind energy by the end of 2015.

Pakistan, according to a recent report of the United States Agency for International Development , has the potential to produce approximately 150,000MW of wind energy which can fetch an investment of around two billion dollars. According to official estimates, the country has the potential to generate 143,000MW together with solar and wind energy.

According to a study, Pakistan has identified cumulative potential to generate 3.2 million megawatt from renewable energy resources: 340,000MW from wind, 2.9 million MW from solar, 50,000MW from hydro (large dams), 3,100MW from hydro (small projects), 1,800MW from bagasse cogeneration and 500MW from waste.

The government has also set a target to produce 10 per cent of energy from renewable resources by 2015. If it does follow through with aggressive capacity enhancements, energy experts say Pakistan could be an Asian leader in renewable energy.

The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) and Foundation Wind Energy have recently entered into implementation agreements for the establishment of two wind power projects having 50MW capacity each in Gharo. Both the projects are being installed with a cumulative of 40 Nordex Wind Turbines each with a capacity of 2.5 MW. The combined total energy output of both the projects is approximately 288 GwH per annum.

The financing agreement was signed in May, 2012. The completion period of each project is 15 months from financial close, and both the projects are being targeted for commercial operation during the middle of 2014. The two projects are being financed by the Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and a syndicate of local banks led by the National Bank of Pakistan.

Water and Power Development Authority Chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Shah recently said the government was committed to provide cheap electricity to consumers. After the completion of the ongoing projects, the power rates would slide, he claimed while talking to Pakistan Television. Foreign companies and consultants working on different power projects had been provided full security, he said.

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