Chi­nese-aided power plant to help meet Pak­istan’s en­ergy needs Project is part of China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor

Pakistan Observer - - ECONOMY WATCH -

Cur­rency Sell­ing Buy­ing KARACHI—The Bin Qasim power plant project, a pi­lot project of the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) lo­cated 20km east of Karachi, is hailed for its po­ten­tial role in help­ing quench Pak­istan’s en­ergy thirst. At its con­struc­tion site lo­cated just by the sea, a 195-me­ter-tall chim­ney and two 162-me­ter-tall wa­ter cool­ing tow­ers are al­ready in place. Early July is nor­mally the hottest time of the year here. How­ever, when the summer sun grills the Pak­istani coast be­fore the mon­soon sea­son ar­rives, the 1,500 Chi­nese and 1,600 Pak­istani work­ers still work tire­lessly.

As power short­age is tak­ing a se­ri­ous toll on the Pak­istani econ­omy, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment wants to have the plant be­gin op­er­a­tions be­fore the end of 2017. That’s why it is ask­ing Pow­erChina, the Chi­nese con­struc­tion com­pany com­mis­sioned with the project, to shorten the con­struc­tion time by 12 months. Chen En­ping, a man­ager at Pow­erChina, said good progress is un­der­way and if ev­ery­thing goes well, his team will be able to meet the dead­line. He said that as con­struc­tion is near­ing com­ple­tion, his team would start in­stalling the gen­er­a­tor units and other sys­tems, and thus would likely hire even more lo­cal work­ers.

Two 660-megawatt gen­er­a­tor units will be in­stalled, which would gen­er­ate 1,320 megawatts of elec­tric­ity per year, more than a quar­ter of the 4,500-5,000 megawatts of power short­age es­ti­mated for the year 2012. “Three more plants like this and Pak­istan would have no more en­ergy woes,” Chen said. Cov­er­ing an area of 0.81 square km, the coal-fired project is one of the projects that re­ceived pri­or­ity fund­ing from China. It in­cludes a heavy cargo wharf, where im­ported coal from In­done­sia or Australia can un­dock.

Pak­istan’s en­ergy sec­tor has long re­lied on oil and nat­u­ral gas as fuel for its heat power plants, but coal-fired gen­er­a­tors can pro­duce more at lower costs. To make sure that the project is up to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion stan­dards, Chen said the fac­tory’s chim­ney is equipped with desul­fu­r­iza­tion de­vices, and they can add a den­i­tra­tion process if nec­es­sary. “On a sunny day, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to spot smoke com­ing out of the chim­ney,” Chen said. Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif calls the project the flag­ship of CPEC, say­ing the plant means not only much-needed en­ergy, but also thou­sands of jobs for Pakistanis. Rawat, a 28-year-old Pak­istani who works on the site, is happy with his job. He said that with monthly salary reach­ing 40,000 Pak­istani Ru­pees (380 U.S. dol­lars), he is able to sup­port his fam­ily.—Xin­hua

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