Chinese firm concerned over delay in launch of CPEC solar project

Published October 8, 2021
An aerial view of Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park. — Photo courtesy Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power (Pvt) Ltd/File
An aerial view of Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park. — Photo courtesy Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power (Pvt) Ltd/File

LAHORE: A Chinese state company has expressed concerns over the inordinate delay in the launch and completion of the remaining 600-megawatt portion of the 900MW mega solar power project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) due to various issues allegedly on the part of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC).

The firm, in its various communications to the CPEC Authority, Punjab government, Ministry of Energy (power division) and other authorities concerned, has sought immediate resolution of all issues enabling it to launch and complete the remaining part of the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur, Dawn has learnt.

“For the last couple of years, the Chinese company, which completed and commissioned 300MW of the 900MW project in 2016-17, has not worked further due to various official bottlenecks. The company has been running after government departments for this clean power generation project for the last couple of years, but to no avail,” explains an official source.

He claimed the remaining 600MW had not yet reached fruition because the issues related to tariff and interconnection study reports were yet to be resolved by Nepra and NTDC. “Moreover, our re-affirmation of Grid Interconnection Study (GIS) and extension of IEE/NOC approvals and generation licences applications are pending with the NTDC (power planning wing), Nepra and Punjab Environment Protection Department,” the official added citing contents of a recent letter the company wrote to the quarters concerned.

He said the company, in the wake of a series of official meetings with the departments concerned, hired consultants and initiated fresh feasibility studies that they submitted to the Punjab Power Development Board (PPDB) for approval. It also requested the NTDC for re-affirmation of the GIS report approvals that were approved and later withdrawn, submitted generation licence applications to Nepra and agreed to file cost-plus tariff applications afresh to the authority, but to no avail.

He said the competitive bidding mechanism introduced under the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019 does not apply to the company’s advanced stage project under the CPEC’s priority schemes list. That was why the company repeatedly requested the authorities concerned to not impose this mechanism on it.

Moreover, as agreed between the Chinese and Pakistani authorities in the 5th Joint Energy Working Group minutes of Nov 13, 2017, the CPEC projects are allowed to apply for the cost-plus tariff regime, as per relevant tariff resolution in the renewable energy power generation development polices 2006.

“The company is ready to set up its remaining 600MW part via cost-plus, market-based tariff via G2G model under the applicable rules and seeks Nepra’s immediate approval to award it the tariff accordingly. We are also waiting for signing of the project agreement for the remaining portiob,” he added.

The Punjab minister for energy and his spokesman were not available for comments. NTDC Managing Director Azaz Ahmad said he did not see any issues pending on the part of the company. “I will take immediate action as soon as I receive any written complaint from the Chinese firm,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2021

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