By Mansoor Ahmad
LAHORE: Pakistan has the potential to generate around 100,000 megawatts of hydropower and WAPDA has started field and engineering studies for some of the projects, mostly run-of-the-river, with a combined capacity of over 26,000MW.
WAPDA Chairman Shakeel Durrani, talking to The News in an interview, said after the Water and Power Development Authority was split into two, the onus of thermal power generation and electricity distribution had been passed on to the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO).
“This has provided WAPDA a chance to concentrate on irrigation and hydroelectric projects.”
He said the hydroelectric generation potential, which a few years ago was estimated at 56,000MW, had increased to over 100,000MW due to new studies and latest technology which facilitated more power generation.
With the help of new technology, he said, power could be generated not only from run-of-the-river feasible sites but also from existing canals where water fall was available and even from running canals without water fall.
For instance, he said, earlier studies estimated power generation from Dasu, a run-of-the-river hydroelectric project, at 3,000MW, however with the application of new technology the same site could produce 4,320MW.
Feasibility study of the project had been completed and Request for Proposals for detailed design and tender documents had been issued.
Similarly, he added run-of-the-river hydroelectric potential at Bunji on River Indus at Gilgit had been revised to over 7,100MW from the original estimate of 4,000MW. “Work on a detailed engineering design of the project is in progress.”
He said WAPDA would add 900MW of electricity from Tarbela in the next three years, adding required infrastructure including tunnel was already in place and the authority had to install power generators.
Durrani said WAPDA had accelerated work on small dams. In the first phase, 12 small dams would be built at a cost of $1.026 billion.
“China has agreed to provide finances worth $700 million for these projects which have cumulative capacity to store 2.5 million acre feet of water. Besides, these dams will produce 20.85MW of electricity as well.”
He said construction work on six of these dams would start in the next three months. These included Hingol Dam, Winder Dam, Pelar Dam and Garuk Dam in Balochistan which had cumulative capacity to store over 300,000 acre feet of irrigation water and produce 2.74MW of electricity.
He said Nai Gaj Dam having capacity of 80,000 acre feet of irrigation water and Darawat Dam having capacity of 50,000 acre feet of irrigation water were in Sindh. Work on the remaining six dams would start by July next year.
The WAPDA chairman said the remaining funds of $300 million for the small dams would be provided by the federal government.
“The beauty of these small dams is that these are located in regions where irrigation water from the existing canal system is not available. These dams will increase cultivation area in the country.”
The use of water from these dams, he added, would be most efficient as the farms falling under these dams would be irrigated through sprinkle or drip irrigation system which would save up to 60 per cent of water.