World Bank makes US$390 million loan for Pakistan’s Tarbela hydroelectric plant extension

The World Bank has approved US$390 million in additional financing to be used by Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority for extensions of its Tarbela hydroelectric plant.

According to the World Bank, the funding will be distributed between the 1,410-MW Tarbela 4 and 1,300-MW Tarbela 5 projects, which, together, will raise the cumulative capacity of the Tarbela complex to 6,298 MW.

Work on the 4th and 5th extensions — each of which uses an outlet tunnel from the existing dam — is being performed simultaneously, but in a manner that won’t prevent water from Tunnel Four being available for irrigation.

The funding comes from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRFD) with a variable spread and 20 years maturity, including a six-year grace period. The World Bank said it is the first project in south Asia to be jointly finance with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is providing an additional $300 million.

The funding will also be used to build a pilot floating photovoltaic project on part of the reservoir, which, according to World Bank officials, could eventually generate as much as 5,000 MW of solar power. reported that WAPDA had receive approvals for Tarbela 5 from the government’s Central Development Working Party in Aoctober. Meanwhile, work was suspended at Tarbela 4 in July when a scaffolding collapse killed six workers.

Tarbela Dam, completed in 1974, was designed to store water from the Indus River for irrigation, flood control and the generation of hydroelectric power. 

The 148 meter high, 3,000 meter long dam has two gated spillways and five tunnels that provide irrigation releases and power generation. At the time of construction the dam tunnels 1, 2 and 3 were scheduled for power generation and tunnels 4 and 5 were designed exclusively for irrigation release.

WAPDA is also in the process of repairing and upgrading the original plant.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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