Global players vie for contracts -- Pakistan's 400 MW project

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About 16 international companies have made clear their interest in participating in the next stage of Pakistan's first commercial wind development, a EUR 400 million, 400 MW project planned for the region of Gharo in Thatta District. The contract for the first 45 MW has been awarded to GE Energy, but 15 further companies have thrown their hat into the bidding ring for the remaining 355 MW, says Shahid Hamid from Pakistan's Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB). Provincial environment and alternative energy adviser Noman Saigol adds: "Almost all have expressed satisfaction with the site by virtue of its location, potential of wind, and proximity to the grid."

The heightened interest in Pakistan follows a renewed government commitment to renewables and announcement of an action plan. This includes establishing a pilot project to fast-track wind plant proposals with the aim of achieving a goal of 100 MW of wind capacity by December 2005.

When complete, the 400 MW Gharo development will meet 50% of the government's current target for 800 MW of renewable energy to be developed in the next five years. AEDB believes a more ambitious target could be achieved, forecasting around 1800-2700 MW of wind power capacity to have been installed by 2015, as part of the country's renewed pledge to have 10% of the country's energy needs met by renewables by that year. To achieve this, it needs 170-270 MW of new wind development installed annually and AEDB has asked the finance ministry to approve plans for an income tax holiday for private companies setting up wind energy projects and tax free import of equipment.


Significant barriers remain, according to a recent report, Commercialisation of Wind Power Potential in Pakistan, by analysts Hagler Bailly. Renewable energy research and implementation has long been hampered by a lack of institutional support and poor definition of mandates and responsibilities, says the report. The founding of a Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies to promote research and development, approved as part of the new action plan, deals with some of these concerns, but it is the renewed support for the work of the AEDB which is expected to help most.

"Regulatory barriers to private power generation are being gradually addressed in Pakistan through new institutional arrangements," says the report. The government, it says, should devise a fiscal regime specifically for commercial, renewables power generation similar to the one it has successfully implemented for thermal and hydro projects.

Gharo is one of two coastal areas, the other being Ormara, identified as having substantial potential for wind development following a two year wind mapping project by the Pakistan Meteorological Office. The 400 MW project is planned for completion by 2007, with the 45 MW New Park Energy wind farm, in Port Qasim, Karachi, comprising 30, GE 1.5 MW turbines, due for commissioning early in 2006. The developer for the first phase is New Park Energy Ltd, a joint venture company which includes Germany's Dorsch Consult and Albario Engineering of Lahore, Pakistan, which has committed to work with GE to reach a goal of 1000 MW. The electricity generated from the project will be sold to the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation.

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