The Karachi Electric Supply Company’s new 560 megawatt (MW) plant is ready to work but it may prove to be just a marginal improvement if it isn’t supplied the gas it needs.
The combined-cycle power plant, Bin Qasim Power Station II (BQPS II), was opened to the media on Monday.
“It’s about efficiency – the new plant is the most efficient plant we have, the most efficient in Pakistan,” Ghufran Khan told The Express Tribune during the tour. “If we use 130 million cubic feet per day (mmfcd) of gas for this plant, we generate more megawatts per mfccd, so the plant will make a difference.”
According to the chief strategy officer of generation and transmission, Arshad Zahidi, the plant can generate 3 to 4MW per 1 mmfcd. Other plants churn out from 1MW to 3MW.
The new plant, despite meeting higher efficiency standards, will not mean an end to load shedding as KESC maintains that the ball is still in Sui Southern Gas Company’s court. “We have the capacity to generate enough electricity for all of Karachi and to completely end load-shedding but only if we get the gas we need,” said KESC spokesman Aminur Rahman.
KESC claims that they have an agreement in principle with the government for 276 mmcfd of gas but with the addition of this plant, it now needs an additional 130 mmcfd. This becomes a total of approximately 400 mmfcd.
The plant has three GE Grame-9 Gas Turbines from France that generate 125MW each. They are already functioning along with a 185MW steam turbine from China that has been commissioned but is scheduled to be synchronised by the end of this month. The plant was generating around 430MW at the time of the visit and KESC says it should be able to reach full capacity by end April. The new plant has the largest power station water treatment plant in the country that uses reverse osmosis to minimise effluent and impact on seawater temperature. The water from the plant is being directly supplied from the sea through a channel.
With the addition of this new plant, KESC’s Gross Dependable Capacity is 2,052MW. Out of this, KESC claims that 1,010MW has been added since September 8, after it was privatised. The total demand for Karachi fluctuates but is generally 2,300 MW. It rises to 2,600MW during peak summer season. Kanupp provides around 90 MW but it has been down for the past month and 650MW are supplied on a fixed basis from NTDC (Wapda).
The shortage in electricity is calculated by the number of load-shedding hours necessary to maintain the gap between the supply and demand which, according to KESC, fluctuates depending on a number of variables including, primarily the gas supply and whether it is consistent and high pressure.
“Forty per cent of Karachi is load shedding free but we have to maintain the supply and demand gap. We prioritize between low-theft and high-theft areas, so we don’t shed the load in the areas where there is little theft,” said Rahman.
KESC maintains that it doesn’t benefit from load shedding and it can earn money when people can be billed for using electricity. But many consumers complain that this is not entirely true because of the average billing system. The plant is being plugged as a symbol of Sino-Pak friendship and in fact Chinese engineers were spotted in all the digital control rooms and around the plant. International lenders such as the International Finance Commission and the Asian Development Bank as well as a consortium of local banks helped with loans.
BQPS-II boasts a thermal efficiency of 51 per cent, which meets international standards and KESC claims that the Bin Qasim Power Complex will become the largest thermal complex in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.