RAWALPINDI: The first wind power generation project in Pakistan has recently been recognised by Project Finance Magazine. The financial magazine, in circulation for the last twenty years, is widely read by financiers, advisers, management consultants, stakeholders managing and developing projects globally and senior government officials.
Turkish-based Zorlu Group showed interest to set up the first wind farm in Pakistan. To turn this into a reality, the company decided to open a subsidiary in Pakistan called Zorlu Energy.
The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) played a crucial role in helping Zorlu Energy to initiate this project.
The Alternative Energy Development was founded by the government in 2003. The purpose of AEDB was to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on hydro and fossil fuel based power generation by identifying alternative energy resources like wind, solar, biogas and micro based run of the river projects. The other major task of AEDB was to help foreign firms invest in this sector.
AEDB had earlier identified that Pakistan has the wind power potential to generate 50,000MW from this free and clean source of energy. Unfortunately, there was no bankable wind data, the data available with the Met department was not at the required turbine hub height and the banks or the investors were not comfortable by these claims alone. AEDB came up with a novel idea of providing ‘wind risk’ data to the investors, making Pakistan the first country to provide such data.
Zorlu Energy was the first company to move ahead with guarantees and assistance from AEDB in setting up the first wind turbine in Jhimpir area of Sindh. Zorlu Energy is investing $136 million in this pioneer wind farm project.
The Istanbul-based company borrowed $38.1 million from the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., $36.8 million from the Asian Development Bank, $20 million from the Eco Trade & Development Bank and $16.2 million from Habib Bank Ltd. (HBL) of Pakistan for the project.
Other investors like Fauji Fertilizer Company, China International Water & Electric Corporation have also keenly followed the progress of this project and have initiated projects in this lucrative new and clean energy generation sector.
In recognition of its wind power project in Pakistan, Zorlu Energy Pakistan has received the “Middle East Renewable Deal of the Year” for 2011 by Project Finance Magazine.
Attaining this prestigious award by Zorlu Energy demonstrates the ease and security of investing in the renewable energy sector in Pakistan.
The government has been late in identifying the potential of free, clean and renewable power sources in the country. In October 2011, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority approved an Rs12.61 per KWh feed-in tariff for foreign financed wind power projects. This tariff has been approved to encourage foreign financiers to invest in this lucrative energy sector in Pakistan.
AEDB is expecting to achieve a target of harnessing renewable energy sources to produce 400MW by the end of this year. The target will be a record in itself as no country has been able to harness 400MW within six years of its first plant.
The writer comments on the energy sector and social development
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.