Pak-China energy cooperation

Posted on August 22, 2011 by

Pakistan and China recently held their Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) meeting in Beijing on August 1-2, 2011. The interactions between China and Pakistan show a worrisome trend of Chinese influence spreading to shambled state of Pakistan. Pakistan is convening Chinese companies across a number of areas including energy projects as was the key point of this working group meeting. The areas of co-operation include the field of conventional energy, renewable energy and civil nuclear energy.

Some of the key points worth noting are as under

  1. Pakistan’s RE potential has not been exploited given a number of issues such as resource constraints and politicization of projects in the backdrop of political uncertainties in Pakistan. It is estimated that the Indus River system has 35,000 MW of hydropower potential. A number of project under development include Karot, Taunsa, Kohala and Bunji hydro-power projects. Among these Bunji dam is expected to generate 7200 MW, Taunsa project in Punjab will generate 120 MW, Karot hydro-power would generate 720 MW and Kohala in the POK has the capability to generate 1100MW.
  2. As is the case with the growing region, Pakistan currently faces a power deficit of 6000 MW, which is expected to grow even further. This energy crisis has negative impact across all sectors of economy – hampering the economic growth and shutting down of industries leading to increased unemployment. The lack of capacity addition can be seen from the fact that no power plant has been commissioned in the last ten years.
  3. Pakistan’s electricity generation does not feature coal as against coal dependent India and China.
  4. Chinese companies, through their various approaches are increasing their dominance in the renewable energy technology space. It is evident from the fact that China has offered help in the 50 MW wind power project in Jhampir and in the 300 MW solar power projects in Pakistan.
  5. China, given its political inclinations has been asking United States to enter into a Civilian Nuclear Agreement similar to the one entered into with India. With the fragility of polity in Pakistan and number of stand-offs on key issues, this is not likely to happen anytime soon. Pakistan’s current nuclear power program is that of 725 MWe capacity. Pakistan can expect to increase it substantially only through collaboration with China.