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Monday December 05, 2022

Solar plant to replace 300MW Gwadar coal power project

The project was conceived under the CPEC and approved in 2016

July 25, 2022
Solar plant to replace 300MW Gwadar coal power project

ISLAMABAD: The Power Division has decided to abandon the 300MW imported coal-based power plant at Gwadar and replace it with a solar plant.

The project was conceived under the CPEC and approved in 2016, but its formal construction had not started. Now the government wants China to install a solar power plant of the same capacity after the government decided not to install any new power plant based on imported fuel in the future.

“We have decided to abandon the project, but we will have to take up the issue at various CPEC forums with our Chinese counterparts. CPEC projects have sensitivity and importance which is why the Power Division’s decision to replace the imported coal-based project at Gwadar with a solar plant is being kept at a low profile,” an official said.

Federal Minister for Power Division Khurram Dastgir Khan also hinted the government wanted the Chinese power plant at Gwadar to be replaced with a solar power plant of 300MW. Talking to The News, he also added that the government had decided to ban new power plants based on imported fuel and would add new capacity to electricity generation based on local fuel, such as Thar coal, wind, solar, and hydel. “However, the government will continue the policy to install more nuclear power plants,” he added.

More importantly, the minister said, the government has also decided to convert the existing imported coal-based power plants of 3,960MW, including the Port Qasim plant, Sahiwal power plant and China Hub plant, each having the capacity to generate 1,320MW of electricity, to local coal. The fuel import bill had eaten up almost $20 billion in the first 11 months of the last fiscal 2021-22. The initiative is being taken to scale down the fuel import bill and reduce reliance on imported fuel for power generation. The minister said the process to convert the three projects to local coal would take investment and time as boilers of the plants would need some specific changes for calibration with Thar coal.

The Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) for the CPEC had decided in its 6th meeting held in Beijing in December 2016 that a 300MW imported coal-fired power project must be developed on a fast-track basis at Gwadar. The tariff of the project was determined in September 2019, land for the project was acquired in February 2020 and the project management was signed on April 8, 2021. The Nepra also issued a generation licence to the project management. However, the financial close of the project has not yet been completed as it is still under process. The project is still on the list of under-construction CPEC projects. However, its construction has not started yet. That is why top officials of the Power Division have decided to abandon the project and replace it with a solar power plant under its new policy not to install a new power plant base on imported coal in future.

Pakistan is currently importing 30 to 70MW of electricity from Iran under an agreement of 110MW. Sometimes, Pakistan has some fluctuation in electricity import because of demand in Iran. Pakistan had inked a new agreement of importing 100MW electricity for which a transmission line would be laid from Polan (Iran) to Gwadar by the end of 2022, or the start of 2023. The government has also increased its emphasis on laying its own infrastructure in Balochistan and the NTDC will lay a high transmission line of 500kv from Makran coast to Gwadar.

Comments

    MalikSaabSays commented 4 months ago

    Finally some sense. HOWEVER, solar capacity factor is one fifth of the coal run plant, and it is intermittent at best. You need something else to manage the base load. Basics of electricity system.

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