Islamabad, Pakistan—Pakistan is beginning to reap the benefits of Chinese investment in renewable energy infrastructure, with the opening of the first wind power project constructed as part of the huge China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, aimed at overhauling the country’s transport and energy systems.
The nearly 50 megawatt wind farm is located on over 680 acres (275 hectares) of land in Jhimpir, near the shores of the picturesque Keenjhar Lake, around two hours’ drive from the city of Karachi.
Jhimpir is part of the so-called “Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor” in Sindh province, a 110 mile stretch of coastal land that the Pakistan Meteorological Department says has the potential to produce 11,000 MW of electricity through wind power.
The corridor is home to Pakistan’s earliest wind project, which began in 2009 with just a few turbines and was upgraded to an installed capacity of 56 MW by 2012.
The new wind farm, which opened last month, has been developed by Sachal Energy Development, with financing from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
Pakistan and China have signed around $57 billion of energy and infrastructure projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Most of this investment is going towards coal-fired power plants, fueled both by imported coal and by coal mines in Pakistan’s Thar Desert.
The CPEC projects aim to boost energy production in Pakistan to reduce shortages that lead to regular power outages.
The country can produce as much as 23,000 MW of power, but experts say that there is a shortfall of as much as 5,000 MW during periods of peak demand – and demand is increasing by the day given the rapidly growing population.
CPEC energy projects are expected to add around 17,000 MW to the national grid in the next few years through what are being called “early harvest” projects to overcome the energy crisis.
Most of these are coal-powered plants, such as the 1,320 MW Sahiwal plant in Punjab, which was…