ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday signed four agreements for setting up two coal-based power plants of 1,650 megawatts in Hub and Thar under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The agreements – two each for project implementation and power purchase – were inked by representatives of China Power Hub Generation Company Limited, Hub Power Company and Private Power and Infrastructure Board.
Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Water and Power Secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha were present on the occasion. Under the agreements, a 1,320MW coal-fired power plant will be set up in Hub, Balochistan at an estimated cost of $2 billion while a 330MW plant will be installed in Thar, Sindh costing $500 million.
First power project will be completed by August 2019 and the second will come online by December 2019.
Terming the projects a major milestone, Khawaja Asif said construction work on the 1,320MW plant had already commenced and both projects would be completed in 2019.
He boasted that the government was also fully executing the projects that would come on stream after the end of its tenure keeping in view future energy requirements of the country.
Asif pointed out that preference was being given to the consumption of Thar coal for generating cheap electricity. “These projects will open a new chapter in the energy sector … Thar will be a centre of energy for the country in future,” he remarked.
He said the projects would not only help save foreign exchange, but would also produce electricity at affordable prices.
Responding to a question, the minister elaborated that the 1,320MW project was based on super-critical technology, meaning it would be more environment-friendly.
However, the 330MW plant will run on sub-critical technology. Replying to a question about why the sub-critical technology was being used, the minister clarified that it was a pilot project and after the passage of time and more projects were taken up, the technology would be upgraded.
He emphasised that equal attention was being paid to upgrading the power transmission system and work on that was being carried out simultaneously.
About the Nandipur power plant, the minister claimed that it was supplying 430MW, its full capacity, as six furnace oil treatment plants had been put in place. “Gasification process has also started and the plant will start running on gas in May this year and generate 525MW,” he said.
He revealed that payment had also been made to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines for laying a pipeline for gas supply to the plant. Turning to Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, the minister said groundbreaking of both the projects would be carried out this year and the reservoirs would be built with the help of domestic resources.
Land acquisition for the Diamer-Bhasha dam had been mostly completed and a little percentage was left, he said.
Asif said around 1,000MW of alternative energy was being generated, which came to around 6% of the total power production in the country. The minister announced that the government was going to unveil the water policy very soon and was also planning to hold an international water conference this year.
Meanwhile, in a tweet, Asif said the government had made payments of Rs270 billion out of the total Rs480 billion to the independent power producers (IPPs) in 2013 whereas Rs71.6 billion was paid to the oil and gas companies.
(with additional reporting from our Islamabad correspondent)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2017.