CPEC and Pakistan Energy Pursuits | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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CPEC and Pakistan Energy Pursuits

Easy and smooth supplies of energy resources have become the mantra of every country in the world.

Emerging complex and complicated geopolitics has further increased the doctrines of food & energy security and Pakistan is not any exception.

In this rapidly changing scenario, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) , a flagship project of the BRI, has further streamlined, systemized and strengthened the capacity building mechanism of the country’s energy production.

In this context, right from the beginning it initiated an integrated and holistic policy to pull the country from the darkness of long and painful load shedding and gradually increased its overall energy production chain in the country.

CPEC power plants are the most efficient in Pakistan and they are an exemplar for Pakistan’s energy scenario. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s current energy sector is badly affected because of inbuilt chronic inefficiencies, burgeoning circular debt and massive dependence on imported fossil fuels. However, current coal imports from Afghanistan have provided some relief.

Energy has a direct economic correlation. In this regard, the energy crisis has a direct impact on economic activity and hit lower-income citizens the hardest.

Even industrial production has been compromised due to supply of adequate energy in the country.

CPEC has been one of the key economic dominators, stimulators and drivers of Pakistan’s macro-economy due to which the efficiency and productivity of the energy sector has increased and it has also brought investment to the country. Hopefully further investments to develop power, gas and petroleum infrastructure will enhance its potential and production capacity.

In this connection, CPEC’s most recently inaugurated hydropower project Karot is very important for the national interest and energy security. It will decrease energy production price and provide a cheap energy source in the national grid.

It will be a giant step towards de-carbonization and climate change. It will provide cheap electricity to five million houses.

The government of Pakistan has already selected many sites where many hydropower plants may be built.

Good thing is that Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam projects, being mega hydropower plants after running for 20 to 25 years, the cost of generating electricity from these two is just the cost of operating a turbine.

Moreover, the initial cost of new proposed hydropower plants is very high, but it seems that over the period of time, it is in the country’s interest to use indigenous resources.

Because of high prices in the international markets the imported fuel has been a great worry and burden on the national treasury. Thus there is an urgent need to transform the country’s mix and gradually move towards hydro and renewable energy sources.

Thar has great potential to play an important role in Pakistan’s energy scenario as a lot of projects are being implemented in the region where Chinese companies have invested heavily. Pakistan may generate additional energy from its own resources, through coal produced in the country.

In Thar, coal is being extracted during nine month due to which a number of plants can be set up, which will also lead to development in the region, increase electricity production in the country and we will be able to transmit from there.

Furthermore, such a holistic production chain mechanism in Thar can lead to overall socio-economic uplift of the region, improvement of the country and improvement of the local population.

The CPEC has been doing a great job to transform the energy outlook of the country by initiating, implementing and completing numerous energy small, medium and mega projects in the country.

720 MW Karot Hydropower Project, AJK/Punjab,1320 MW Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant, 1320MW Coal-fired Power Plant at Port Qasim Karachi, 1320MW China Hub Coal Power Project, Hub Balochistan, 660MW Engro Thar Coal Power Project, 1000MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park (Bahawalpur), 50 MW Hydro China Dawood Wind Farm, Gharo, Thatta, 100MW UEP Wind Farm, Jhimpir, Thatta, 50MW Sachal Wind Farm ,Jhimpir, Thatta, 100MW Three Gorges Second and Third Wind Power Project, Matiari to Lahore ±660 KV HVDC Transmission Line Project, 1320 SSRL Thar Coal Block-I 7.8 mtpa & Power Plant (2×660MW) (Shanghai Electric), 330MW HUBCO Thar Coal Power Project (Thar Energy), 330MW HUBCO Thal Nova Thar Coal Power Project, 884MW Suki Kinari Hydropower Project, KP, 300MW Coal-Fired Power Project at Gwadar, 1124MW Kohala Hydropower Project, AJK, 700.7MW Azad Pattan Hydropower Project, AJK/Punjab, 1320 MW Thar Mine Mouth Oracle Power Plant & surface mine, 50MW Cacho Wind Power Project, 50MW Western Energy (Pvt.) Ltd.

Wind Power Projects are the numerous energy projects under the flagship of CPEC which has actually further consolidated energy potential, production and energy plants in the country.

On its part to control and substantially reduce the energy deficit which is now at 4,848 megawatts, the incumbent government has reopened some of the closed plants. At the start of June, citizens reeled under 12-hour-long prolonged power outages as the electricity shortfall increased to 6,690 MW.

Then earlier this month, PM Shehbaz had ordered authorities to reopen closed power plants to ease the electricity crisis in the country.

Chairing a meeting in Lahore on the power situation, he had also sought an explanation for the prolonged spells of electricity outages.

The power shortfall in the country back then had reached 7,787 MW, because of which electricity outages of up to 16 hours were being carried out in different parts of the country.

However, the situation is becoming better now as the power outages in the major cities of the country have reduced to around two to three hours a day.

The sources said the total production of electricity was 20,152 MW against the demand of 25,900 MW.

6400 MW electricity was being generated from hydropower sources and government thermal plants were producing 1,233 MW.

The total production of private sector power plants is 9,500 MW. Wind power plants are generating 500 MW and the contribution of solar energy stands at 113 MW. Biogas-powered plants are producing 121 MW and nuclear fuel is generating 2,285 MW.

The water supply situation has started improving in the country after the recent spell of rains as was evident from increased flow in rivers.

A Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) shared details of Pakistan’s reservoirs, showing an improvement in the inflows.

The water inflow in Tarbela Dam was 89,700 cusecs and the outflow was 12,000 cusecs. The inflow in Mangla stood at 30,700 cusecs and outflow is 15,000 cusecs.

The inflow in Chashma is 233,500 cusecs and outflow 219,900 cusecs. At Head Marala, the inflow of water into the Chenab River is 68,700 cusecs and the discharge is 43,600 cusecs.

The inflow of water into the Kabul River in Nowshera is 59,600 cusecs and the outflow is 59,600 cusecs.

To conclude it is high time to completely transform the energy outlook of the country in terms of investment, production methods, cycles and means. More focus should be given to develop and build hydropower plants in the country in which CPEC Phase-II would be a game changer.

Keeping in view, regional rivalry with India, looming threat of non-state actor of climate change and increasing prices of fuels in international market, it is suggested that public-private partnership in the country and new business model of production and profit sharing with Chinese private companies may be a good omen for further production of hydropower and development of renewables in the country.

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