Pakistan Reader# 188, 28 August 2021
Pakistan has an enormous wind energy potential of 346,000 MW, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan. The country’s diverse terrain includes coastal and hilly areas which are suitable for installation of large wind turbines. According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, the electricity generated by wind has its share in energy mix of 3.31 per cent which is equal to 1,235 megawatts (MW). According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), USA, under the USAID assistance program showed Pakistan has a total estimated gross wind power potential installable capacity of around 346,000 MW, however, only 120,000 MW is viable.
Current Use of Wind Energy
The Alternative Energy Development Board of the Ministry of Water and Power of Pakistan is pursuing 40 Wind power projects of cumulative capacity of approximately 2010.2 MW. Further, 12 wind power projects of 610 MW capacity have achieved Financial Closing and are under construction. Additionally, four wind power projects of 165 MW capacity are at different stages of project development.
Pakistan has significant wind corridors in southern Sindh, north western locations in Balochistan and central areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Additionally, isolated wind corridors also exist in central and western Punjab, central and southern Balochistan areas. According to a study, south-eastern area of Sindh province, north-western area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and south western area of Balochistan province hold a great potential for harnessing wind energy. Similarly, the wind corridor along the coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh province are also highly beneficial areas for the installation of wind turbines. Particularly, in Sindh, wind power production capacity of 88460 MW with potential sites like Hyderabad, Kotri, Jerruck, Gharo, Jhimpir, Lakha, Khuttikun and Bhambore.
The success of Pakistan’s growth in wind energy is due to its favourable winds in Jhimpir-Gharo Corridor. With the majority of the wind installations in this region along with the first wind plant of Pakistan, Zorlu Enerji 50 MW Project, the region holds the potential for the growth of the wind market. Similarly, the Sapphire Wind Farm project with the capacity of 50 MW is set to introduce Feed in Tariff for the first time with involvement of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) encouraging growth of wind energy in the country. Additionally, the government has tasked AEDB to ensure six per cent of total national power generation capacity to be generated through renewable energy technologies by the year 2030.
Wind Energy Market
Wind energy receives the highest level of private sector interest due to small investment requirements and shorter gestation period. The Pakistani wind energy market is mainly dominated by five major players, they include: Vestas Wind Systems A/S, China Three Gorges Corp, Goldwind International Holdings Ltd, General Electric Company and United Energy Group Limited.
Pakistan’s wind energy market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than five per cent in the forecast period of 2020-2025. Factors such as supportive government policies and efforts reduce to reliability on fossils, declining costs of renewable technologies and additional subsidies on renewables are driving the renewable market further. Additionally, to boost the manufacturing of wind equipment the government has planned to propose five-year tax exemption for the manufacturers. However, the dependency on fossil fuel-based power generation and minimal development in the renewable energy sector in Pakistan are factors that could have a negative impact on the growth of wind energy.
As the new Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) 2021-30 has revised down the share of solar and wind in the energy mix to 12 per cent compared to 30 per cent in the previous version. As of May 2021, 1,086 MW wind power on grid projects have been commissioned. However, although several wind farms have been set up in Pakistan, the government is still trying to meet the energy demands by producing electricity from conventional means like oil and liquid natural gas (LNG).
The priorities given to wind energy is still low and lacks a clear plan and polices for the sectors development. Some of the challenges for the sector are mainly associate with the lack of government policies and budgetary constraints; lack of incentive for investors including the failure to attract foreign and local investments in wind energy; lack of transmission lines from the wind farms to the cities; lack of technical knowledge and skilled manpower; inadequate infrastructures development; political challenges including the lack of division between the province and federal policies on renewable energy, and inadequate overall energy policy.
Addressing these challenges and tapping into the country’s wind energy potential could be a means by which Pakistan can address its energy shortage issue.
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