President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the country’s first windmill project in Jhimpir, Thatta, on Monday. The Fauji Fertilizer Company Energy Limited’s (FFCEL) project will contribute 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national transmission grid. The wind farm comprises 33 German-made turbines, each with the capacity to produce 1.5MW of energy.
While addressing the ceremony, President Zardari said the government has planned to increase power production from wind and solar sources. “The corridor from Jhimpir to Gharo offers great potential for the use of clean energy,” he observed.
The president also announced the setting up of an industrial zone in Thatta, saying the provincial government is working on the project. “This will not only create jobs for the local people, but will also improve the country’s economy,” he claimed.
President Zardari said the windmill project has created 800 jobs for locals, and the sector will offer far greater employment prospects with the initiation of more projects. He also informed the gathering that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority is working on a tariff for solar energy projects that are to be installed in the same area.
Arif Allauddin, chief executive of the Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB), said the body has given its nod to nine more companies to set up windmills in the Gharo area of Thatta. “This area can provide us clean and abundant energy for the next 50 years,” he added. According to him, the AEDB also plans to promote the production of solar and other forms of renewable energy in the area.
FFCEL Project Director Brigadier (retired) Tariq Aijaz said the project has been completed in a period of one year. He told that they used only 30% of the land acquired by the FFCEL for the windmills, as the remaining has been reserved for solar power projects. “We have signed two more agreements with the government to install two plants of 50MW capacity in Gharo at the cost of $250 million,” he said.
According to him, a loan of $125 million is expected from the Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank, while local banks are expected to extend credit worth $65 million for these projects. The two plants will install 40 German-made turbines of 2.5MW capacity each.
Another windmill project initiated by Zorlu Energy Pakistan in Jhimpir is expected to produce another 56MW from February 2013. With this addition, Jhimpir will contribute 106MW of windmill energy to the national grid, AEBD Secretary Muhammad Anwar Ali said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2012.
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