Pakistan’s 14,000 MW solarization projects offer broad opportunities for cooperation with China: expert

By Wang Kai | China Economic Net Aug 18, 2022

KARACHI, Aug. 18 (China Economic Net)-As Pakistan is carrying out comprehensive solar planning, more Chinese partners are expected to come, reporter of China Economic Net (CEN) was told by Mr. Wahab Hussain Khan, Co-founder and Director of Solcraft Pvt Ltd, a leading EPC company in Pakistan that specializes in solar power projects.

Last week, Pakistani government announced 14,000 MW solarization projects would be launched in the next few months as an alternative to expensive imported fuel.

According to Mr. Wahab Hussain Khan, consumption of solar power in Pakistan has been soaring in recent several years. “It took Solcraft 4 years to complete 17 megawatts of solar projects, but in this year alone, we’ve got 10 megawatts lined up. It shows some trend of the industry”.

Much of Pakistan’s solar potential is yet to be tapped. “Our thermal capacities are more than twice the size of our intermittent sources of power. That means 2/3 of our energy relies on imported fuel that involves coal, RLNG, gas, and furnace oil. Heavy reliance on imported fuel complicated by international situation and internal conditions in Pakistan has resulted in approximately 40% increase in the cost of power this year and depleting foreign reserve at a higher rate”, said Mr. Wahab Hussain Khan.

Pakistan has a total installed power of 39,000 megawatts, and the consumption in peak summers is no more than 25,000 megawatts, but not all areas can enjoy uninterrupted power due to limited transmission capacity.

According to Mr. Wahab Hussain Khan, the government’s solar plan will greatly reduce the cost of power.

He told CEN reporter that most of the 14,000 megawatts is going to be concentrated rather than distributed. “First of all, around 3 to 4 acres of land are needed to install one megawatt, so the 14,000 megawatts will need a lot of space. Another reason is that most of the private sector have installed their own captive solar power plants. There is limited room left for them to put up new plants. For residential buildings, too, the domestic market has only sufficient money to put up around another two or three thousand megawatts of solar installations given that only about 500 megawatts of distributed solar were achieved in the past five years after net metering was implemented”, he said.

This means the majority chunk of the project will come from the government’s pocket, which will open up broad opportunities of cooperation with international players, especially China.

“If you see the global map, 70% to 80% of solar panels are manufactured in China”. He strongly anticipates Chinese panel manufacturers to come to Pakistan and make use of local raw materials such as silicon to further lower the cost of solar installations.

“14,000 megawatts is not a piece of cake. It will require long-term efforts. There are going to be more partners from China, and a lot of jobs will be generated for the locals”, he analyzed, adding that RMB settlement would be the way forward meeting Pakistan’s energy goal.

“Pakistan aims to reach a level of 30% renewables as of 2030, but we still have more than 20% to go. Transactions in RMB will relax the burden on federal reserve and the policies are already there”, he said.

Talking of Pakistan’s solar potential, he told CEN reporter that Quetta has the world’s second-best solar irradiation potential after Chili. “If Chinese manufacturers can set up plants in the province of Balochistan where the potential is higher than any other province of Pakistan, we will not only meet internal solar demand, but also export the surplus to our neighbors”, he added.

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