USAID offers to import power from Central Asia to Pakistan | Pakistan Today

USAID offers to import power from Central Asia to Pakistan

In a major development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has proposed to Pakistan to import up to 4,500 megawatts of power from the natural gas-rich but landlocked Central Asian states to end the power crisis within two years. An informed source told Pakistan Today that USAID had recently sought approval for a project named Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TUTAP), under which power from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan would be transmitted to Pakistan through Afghanistan.
The proposal was given considering Pakistan’s projected power supply shortages of over 5,000 MW from 2011 onwards. Power imports only represented the least cost option to meet future demand, as investment in power projects would remain low. Under the proposed plan, USAID had only sought one assurance from Pakistan that it would sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the agency, while it would itself conduct the feasibility study for the project within two months. The project would require an investment of $14 billion in the power generation and transmission network through Afghanistan, he added.
USAID would be arranging the investment to tap the abundant hydropower potential in Tajikistan and to set up thermal generation units in the natural gas-rich Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The power generated in these three countries would be transmitted to Pakistan at a cost of 4 cents or Rs 3.5 per unit. It is much cheaper than the Rs 7 to Rs 10 per unit price concluded recently with Iran for the import of 35MW for Makran Division and 100MW for the coastal city of Gwadar. Pakistan’s growth in electricity consumption is increasing at a rate of 8 percent per year, with low investment in the sector over the years leading to a tightening of the supply-demand balance and causing bottlenecks in transmission and distribution networks. The power demand is expected to increase to 25,000MW by 2014-15, which requires an investment of over $35 billion in the next five years. Interestingly, Pakistan would not have to bear any of the cost in the generation and transmission network, it would only have to incur cost for setting up transmission link up to its border with Afghanistan to start receiving the electricity imports. The source said that if the electricity trade went successfully, the power supplies could be enhanced up to 10,000MW in future.
On the security issues to transmission networks in Afghanistan, the source said that it was proposed that the local population would be offered money to protect the power transmission line in their territory for every ten kilometres. USAID, he said, had also offered to Pakistan to import up to 300MW from Afghanistan out of the 600 MW supplied to it by Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Afghanistan has no capacity to utilise more than 300 MW and Pakistan could get the surplus in days if the extension of transmission network was undertaken urgently. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan have already signed an agreement for electricity trade under the Asian Development Bank supported Central Asia–South Asia Regional Electricity Market.

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