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Oil mafia blamed for ‘blocking’ wind power generation

The Fauji Fertilizer Company Energy Limited (FFCEL) has put 50 Megawatt power into the National Grid, generated through windmills, and it is prepared to venture for further power generation by renewable resources, but some lobbies are creating hindrances in its way.

It is understood that the oil mafia is creating stumbling blocks but the FFCEL is fully geared up for further efforts. The company believes that the country’s economy could be turned around through renewable resources of power generation like wind and solar in less time that could be consumed on the other projects.

Former defence secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, who is currently the FFCEL managing director, in an exclusive chat, told The News here that he wouldn’t offer comment on the so-called obstacles in the way of renewable power generation resources, but Pakistan is hardly using any of these resources, and it’s the high time to start making use of these resources to cater the energy needs. He claimed that considering the countrywide energy crisis and depleting domestic resources, the FFC has emerged as a leader in developing the wind resources as its subsidiary, the FFC Energy Limited, developed the first and signature wind power project of the country after going through all thick and thin.

“Pakistan currently faces serious energy crisis. The supply of electricity falls well below the demand. Its indigenous resource of natural gas is fast depleting. As a result of this, Pakistan will have to pay a higher price for its energy imports resulting in circular debt, severe loadshedding, electricity price hikes, increasing unemployment and towering oil import bill. If this continues, it will lead to worsening of current energy scenario, leading to wider gap between supply and demand of electricity within coming years,” he added.

The general reminded that much of Pakistan’s rural areas do not have access to electric power and about half of the population is not connected to the national grid. Due to power shortage in the country, rotating blackouts have become essential in the country’s electrified areas. To worsen the situation, the transmission losses are about 30% due to lack of infrastructure and a significant amount of power theft.

To a query, he said that primary thermal generation fuels in Pakistan are furnace oil and gas. While both are produced domestically, demand for oil already outstrips supply by a considerable amount, and gas demand is expected to outstrip domestic supply in the near future.

Oil imports are already a significant burden on the national exchequer and the increasing import bill continues to exert further pressure on foreign exchange reserves. General Lodhi said that pioneering into the renewable and green energy production in the country has its own unique challenges, which in turn brought opportunities for new solutions and achievements. Nepra Grid Code, which governs the functioning of the national transmission grids and ensures that transmission services are available to all grid users in the country, did not have provision to include any wind power plant into the transmission grids.

With the inception of FFCEL Wind Power Project, grid code was updated in an extensively long process to take in the wind power plants for the first time. The FFCEL played an active role and made major contribution in preparation of Grid Code addendum for Wind Power.

General Lodhi said that during commissioning phase of the wind farm when practical implementation of country’s first energy purchase agreement (EPA) was undertaken, several technical and management issues came up. However, highly motivated and determined for accomplishing the objective, FFCEL Team kept negotiating and persuading the power purchaser which eventually settled all unresolved issues. This finally led to Reliability Run Test which was successfully completed in first attempt with 99% availability against required 85% – a feat in itself and following its completion, Commercial Operation Date of Pakistan’s first and signature Wind Power Project was declared and this historic milestone has placed Pakistan on the renewable energy map of the world.

“The whole project development process from its inception till completion is a doorway to a new technology in our country. Local law and order situation was a constant dilemma throughout the span of the project. In such state of affairs, achievement of commercial operations of the project shows a great deal of dedication and persistency from FFC. This Project has generated a road map for the future renewable projects and investors of Pakistan and if followed in true spirit can put our country of the path of progress and prosperity,” he said proudly.

General Lodhi said that its country’s signature project and major milestone towards achievement of self sufficiency in energy production through indigenous resources. To date the Wind Power Project has fed 75 million units of electricity into the National Grid. Based on the historic wind data, the annual energy yield of the plant is 145GWh or 145 million units, good enough for fulfilling annual electricity needs of 30,000 average homes. All this electricity is produced from 100% Green and Renewable Resource —Wind. It not only provides cleaner and sustainable energy to Pakistan national grid but also helps equivalent reduction in Oil Import Bill and aversion in depletion of Oil & Gas resources, the General maintained.

He said that as the prices of oil and gas rising across the globe, generating energy through thermal power projects has become highly expensive. The highly volatile oil and gas prices in the past few years have left economies crippled and have contributed greatly to the global recession. Energy security combined with the need to cut carbon emissions, have seen a huge increase in demand for wind power. The demand for oil is highly dependent on global macroeconomic conditions. “According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) high oil prices generally have a large negative impact on the global economic growth. Such volatile prices adversely affect economies of developing countries like Pakistan and will continue to do so if alternate resources are not harnessed for development of renewable energy. In order to circumvent power shortfalls resulting from the volatility of fossil fuel availability and prices, solutions need to be sought from local energy resources like domestic coal and renewable energy resources such as hydel, wind and solar. All of these options could assist in reducing Pakistan’s reliance on imported fuel, and consequent vulnerability to changes in global oil prices,” General Naeem Khalid Lodhi said.

He was of the view that wind power generation could become a significant contributor to Pakistan’s electricity demand in future. The development of wind generation projects supports the environmental objectives of the Government of Pakistan by reducing dependence on fossil fuels for thermal power generation; increasing diversity in Pakistan’s electricity generation mix; reducing green house gas emissions through the avoidance of thermal power generation; and helping in reduction of the exorbitant trade deficit.

Recalling the history of wind power generation, General Lodhi said that the programme in Pakistan was initiated around 2003-2004 by installation of wind measuring stations in the coastal areas of Sindh. The energy potential of 346,000MW in the country is estimated by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA and only the Gharo, Keti Bander, Hyderabad wind corridor has a potential of 43,000MW of wind power generation. If harnessed adequately, wind energy alone would eradicate energy shortages in the country. The Government of Pakistan is currently looking to build wind farms in the Wind Corridor, some of which are regions where electricity supply through the national grid has been a challenge.

He said that use of wind energy is one of the most economical and efficient renewable energy production technique, the focus is on supporting the development of wind farms through wind based independent power producers.

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