Pakistan brings micro-hydroelectric projects online

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province located in northwest Pakistan, has completed work on 37 micro hydroelectric projects under the country’s power enhancement initiative, according to a statement by Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan.

The initiative, as it relates to hydropower, seeks to construct a total of 350 micro-hydropower plants that will have a total installed capacity of 35 MW. The hydropower projects are being constructed in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Batagram, Tor Ghar, Kohistan, Malakand, Buner, Swat, Shangla, Dir (Upper/Lower) and Chitral, according to the government.

The province is home to a number of large hydropower projects, including the 243-MW Warsak and 3,480-MW Tarbela plants. But, the micro-projects are planned to reduce load shedding and provide uninterrupted power supply in the province.

So far, according to published reports, the completed projects have a totaled installed combined capacity of 2 MW.

The provincial government decided to construct the community-based micro hydro stations through non-governmental organizations and the program’s total estimated cost is US$82.3 million, being funded through Pakistan’s Hydel Development Funds.

Hydropower was once a major source of energy in Pakistan, according to the Asian Development Bank, accounting for nearly 45% of all electricity generation in 1991. However, this share has dropped to about 28% due to a decline in the construction of hydropower plants and rising demand.

The share of thermal generation has risen to about 70% and most plants use oil or gas, which is not affordable when compared to hydropower.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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