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June 14, 2019

Engro Energy to invest $144.4 million in 200MW solar power

KARACHI: Engro Energy Limited has approached National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) seeking generation license for a cumulative 200MW solar power plants to be setup in Kuchlak Balochistan with an investment of $144.4 million.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Engro Corporation plans to develop four solar power plants of 50MW each, namely Kuchlak-I, Kuchlak-II, Kuchlak-III and Kuchlak-IV in Baluchistan, which are expected to achieve commercial operation date (COD) by June 2020.

Engro Energy does not intend to award engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contracts for either whole or part of the project and would implement the project in self-EPC mode through direct supervision and management of multiple consultants, suppliers and contractors, an official said.

The project financing would be based on a debt to equity ratio of 80:20. Under the base case financial projections, debt was assumed to be 100 percent locally financed using concessionary financing scheme of State Bank of Pakistan for renewable with servicing tenor of 10 years.

According to a report issued by NEPRA, Pakistan was facing chronic electricity shortages due to demand growth, high system losses, seasonal reductions in the availability of hydropower, and circular debt etc. Rotating power outages were common and many villages were not yet electrified. The power sector of Pakistan was a mix of thermal, hydro, nuclear and renewable energy power plants.

Originally the ratio of hydropower to thermal installed generation capacity, in the country was about 67 percent to 33 percent (1985), but with the passage of time, due to different reasons more of thermal generation was added thereby reducing the share of hydropower generation.

At present, ratio of hydropower to thermal installed generation capacity was about 30 percent to 65 percent.

The dilemma for Pakistan is that its power production is dominated by thermal power plants running on oil and gas. In such a scenario, solar power generation appears to be a viable and environmental friendly alternative for meeting Pakistan's urgent electricity demands. Solar energy source is widely distributed and abundantly available in the country.

The total energy through solar has been recorded at 635 GWh for an increase of 410 GWh over the energy generated through solar during fiscal year 2015-16.

Engro Energy has recently been awarded development rights by the government of Balochistan to develop the power plants. The power from these plants would be evacuated into the national grid.

The sun shines for 250-300 days a year in Pakistan, with average sunshine of 8-10 hours/day, which could provide a huge amount of solar power.