Business / Industries

Chinese-aided power plant project to help meet Pakistan's energy needs

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-04 11:17

KARACHI - The Bin Qasim power plant project, a pilot project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) located 20 km 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), he is able to support his family.

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