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‘Port Qasim’s coal-fired power project to catalyse foreign investments’

By Javed Mirza
December 03, 2017

KARACHI: The successful completion of 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power plant will serve as a catalyst in inviting other foreign investors to Pakistan, a Chinese firm’s official said.

“This is a pilot project and would invite more confidence and investment in Pakistan,” Sheng Yuming, chairman of Port Qasim Electric Power Company said, referring to the coal-fired power project being developed by a consortium of Al-Mirqab Capital (AMC) of Qatar and Power China with a cost of $2.08 billion at Port Qasim.

Yuming, talking to media on Friday, said successful completion of an eco-friendly coal power plant would also improve country’s energy mix and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels. “This affirms commitment of Pakistan and Chinese government towards the socioeconomic development of the country.”

Earlier this week Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the unit-I of two coal-fired power plants – each having 660MW of production capacity.

The second unit is expected to come online by February 2018, one and a half month ahead of the timeline.

The Chinese official said though Power China is a business entity and returns on investments are always under consideration, “but in this case it is more important that people should get clean, cheap and sustainable energy.”

He said Pakistan had been witnessing electricity shortages, which opened up investment opportunities in the electricity generation sector.

“We did extensive market analysis and research of the country’s energy market and since there was no coal power plant in the country Power China forwarded a proposal to set up a coal fired plant,” he added.

“Now, the unit-I of this 1,320MW plant has been synchronised into the national grid. This would generate the cheapest electricity in Pakistan.”

Yuming sees a ‘profound and far-reaching’ impact of the power project and other China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects on the people.

“We have utilised the cutting-edge supercritical technology with the objective of zero percent emission levels,” he said. “Port Qasim power plant is quite environment-friendly unlike the K-Electric’s power plant next door, whose toxic emissions are making people sick.”

Power China’s chairman said development of such an advanced and eco-friendly power plant set a precedent and would persuade other players to opt for environment-friendly technologies.

He said circular debt in Pakistan’s energy chain is a big problem and a significant risk posing the investors. “However, we have a support from government of China and assurances in this regard and under these assurances we took the risk for the betterment of the people of Pakistan.”

Cai Bin, chief executive officer at Port Qasim Electric Power Company said it employs 102 students from various universities across the country. “These students were imparted training in China before being assigned sensitive responsibilities at the project as part of their policies of inclusion of local human resource.”

Bin said Power China is deliberating on certain other projects, including a 135MW hydropower plant near Multan, a wind farm in Sindh and a gas pipeline project along with AMC of Qatar.