Pakistan is ready to approve a Norwegian company’s request to build a 150-megawatt wind farm, the first part of a $1 billion plan, which could boost the country’s capacity for clean energy.
Pakistan is seeking to diversify its energy supplies away from oil and gas and boost electricity production. There is a power deficit of 3.6 gigawatts a day, triggering 12-hour blackouts that cause riots and close factories in cities.
Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is willing to allow a project proposed by NBT AS, a Lysaker-based clean energy company, that plans to build the facility in Sindh province’s “wind corridor” north of Karachi, AEDB Chief Executive Arif Alauddin told Bloomberg.
“They came to us saying they have got the money and relationship with the Chinese and they want to invest,” Alauddin said. “As soon as they pay the fee, we will issue that letter to them. We will be able to give them the land if we can see they can deliver.”
Pakistan has almost one gigawatt of projects under various stages of completion and on paper and 498.5 megawatts more of wind programs announced, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. Only six megawatts of wind energy facilities are operating.
NBT Chief Executive Officer Joar Viken said he plans to tap financing for his project from one of three Chinese turbine makers that his company is talking with about supplying machinery for facilities. “We think Pakistan is very good environment and has a very good framework,” Viken told Bloomberg in a phone interview from New York. “Because we get everything in US dollars, we don’t have a huge currency risk.”
NBT envisions developing as much as 650 megawatts of wind power in Pakistan over the next few years. It purchased land suitable for 50 megawatts in Sindh province and is seeking partnership with Z A Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology in Karachi, for land for other 100 megawatts, Alauddin said.
He further said NBT proposed to install as much as 250 megawatts of capacity over the next two years. AEDB is working “very hard” to provide Norwegian company with an “upfront tariff” that will help guarantee a price for power sold from wind farms. Last tariff it approved was worth about 13 US cents a kilowatt-hour. AEDB could approve additional 500-megawatt project if NBT is able to line up funding from a Chinese partner where it has existing wind developments, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2011.