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China introduces advanced tech in Pakistan’s power sector: report

power sector

ISLAMABAD: The massive energy projects executed by Chinese firms not only ended power outages in Pakistan, but also introduced the most advanced technologies in the country’s power sector.

According to media reports, these include the underground hydropower projects as well as the ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants.

In 2018, China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) completed construction of first-ever underground powerhouse in Pakistan, Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The 969-megawatt run-of-river project was a construction challenge due to caverns and tunnels in the not so solid and ever active Himalayan mountains range. The project was completed after 10 years of unprecedented engineering efforts in the toughest geological and geotechnical environments, according to a joint study of Hanyang University, Korea and five Pakistani universities.

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The CGGC is also building the 884 MW Suki Kinari hydropower project under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, involving the same engineering design. CGGC has also signed a contract with the government of KP province for construction of the 300 MW Balakot HPP with the same design.

“The project will provide us with a chance to work on tunnel excavation and installation of underground power plants, as earlier such projects were at federal government level to which we had no exposure,” a senior official of KP’s energy development arm, PEDO, said.

In addition, China Three Gorges Corp. (CTGC) has also built a similar hydropower facility in Karot area of Punjab province. The 720 MW project is nearing completion and expected to commence commercial operations in mid-2022. Three other such projects in North Pakistan are at different stages of implementation.

Moreover, in the coal energy sector, Shanghai Electric Group is building a 1,320 MW ultra-supercritical power plant in the Tharparkar area of Sindh province.

This technology has never been used before in Pakistan, an official of the Thar Coal Block 1 Power Generation Co said. The company is a special-purpose vehicle registered in Pakistan for execution of the project.

The ultra-critical technology, which has been developed by Shanghai Electric, has a higher thermal efficiency level resulting in lesser emissions per unit of the electricity generated, the official explained. “The project will utilise the indigenous Thar coal and produce low-cost energy with lesser or no environmental hazards,” he said.

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