Wednesday September 28, 2022

‘Decrepit transmission lines major challenge to wind power projects’

By our correspondents
December 19, 2015

KARACHI: Weak and obsolete electricity transmission system is a major challenge to the upcoming wind power projects across the wind corridor in district Thatta of Sindh, said an industry official.

“The transmission lines are unable to transport high voltage available during peak demands,” said Col (Retd) Muzaffar Hussain, General Manager Plants of Foundation Wind Energy Limited (FWEL). 

“It is up to the government to determine the wind power share in the energy mix keeping in view variability factor of the wind power.”

FWEL, a subsidiary of Fauji Foundation, is producing 100MWs of wind power through its 40 wind turbines with the financial support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the provincial wind corridor. The turbines were connected to national grid back in December 2014.

Currently, 132KV transmission lines are installed to transport the electricity from the area to the national grid and with the support of the ADB they would be upgraded to 220KV lines.

Hussain, briefing journalists during a visit to the site arranged by the ADB, said limited capacity of the transmission lines is becoming an obstacle in delivery of the fuller potential of wind power in the national grid particularly during the summer when power is needed the most.

“Pakistan’s wind corridor in district Thatta has the potential to generate around 40,000-megawatt electricity that can be sufficient to meet the country’s power demands for years,” he said.

“This rather unexploited clean energy resource is now being put to use by an increasing number of private sector investors, with the ADB taking a clear lead in providing financial assistance and support by injecting 150MW out of 200MW of wind power currently produced and added to the national grid.”

Turkish and Chinese companies are already producing 100MW of power from various projects in Jhimpir, Thatta.

About the FWEL’s project, the official said 800 local people were employed during the construction period, “and now due to the development of road infrastructure, transportation has become easy.”

“Most of the local people depend on their living on fishing and due to easy access their incomes have increased several folds.”

A local fisherman told The News that they could now easily visit the main markets to sell their catches.    “Before the project was materialised we used to sell our catch, especially costly jellyfish at a very low price to the middlemen,” he said. “But, now we have an access to the market and we can easily sell it in the main markets of Gharo and even in Karachi and earn handsome price.”

A local security guard said earlier it took us three hours to reach the main markets in Gharo, “but after the road was built, we can easily reach the market in less than an hour.” 

FWEL plants, located at Kutti Kun, Gharo around 80-kilometre from the port city of Karachi, are selling electricity to the national grid under 20-year take-or-pay off take contracts.

A number of local and foreign investors are taking interest in the wind power sector. 

“Various local investors, namely Yunus, Gul Ahmad, Tapal and Metro have already initiated projects near our wind farm,” said Hussain. 

ADB’s support to NTDC in building the transmission line up to our Wind Farm has also helped trigger investment in the sector in this part of wind corridor. 

Currently, wind power plants of 200MW have been installed and another 200MW are under construction at the corridor.

Pakistan’s energy demand is increasing 10 percent every year, while generation growth is far less than the demand. 

The country’s economy loses around two percent of its GDP every year due to energy crisis. —Israr Khan