Foreign investors request PM’s support to execute renewable energy projects

The Pakistan Foreign Investors Forum (PFIF) has sought Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s intervention to resolve issues delaying the availability of cheap 425mw alternative and renewable energy (ARE) projects, at less than 4 cents (Rs6.3) per unit, for the masses struggling with expensive electric bills.

According to a report by Dawn, the group of wind and solar energy sponsors has complained to the prime minister that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had cleared their generation tariffs; however, the Ministry of Energy had failed to issue a notification for almost 5-10 months due to legal loopholes in an April 2019 decision of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE).

“NEPRA has recently awarded the lowest wind power tariff in Pakistan’s history at an average of US cents 3.22/kwh to five projects of 275mw (which is lower than present wind tariff of China, USA etc) located in Jhimpir — Sindh and to 150mw three solar projects located in Dera Ismail Khan at 3.9 cents/kwh),” the PFIF wrote to the prime minister.

The group said that the notification has been pending owing to a decision of the CCOE that required future energy projects to be inducted through competitive bidding. For this, the CCOE had set three categories, allowing projects in the first and second categories to proceed and putting 104 projects (including eight RE projects of 425mw) in the third category.

The foreign investors’ forum said a total of eight projects — five wind energy (275mw) projects in Sindh and three solar (150mw) projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — were already in the advanced stage as their applications were pending with NEPRA due to  “inadvertently being put in category III”.

Therefore, they were given tariff by NEPRA which should be notified. The projects included 100mw Norinco International Power, 50mw Iran-Pak Power, 50mw Sinowell, 50mw Shafi Power and 25mw Moro Power (all wind) besides solar projects of 50mw each including Javed Solar, FAS Solar and Kolachi Solar.

Interestingly, following the CCOE decision, the government entered into agreements with “Super Six” (six renewable energy projects of 310mw) sponsored by the World Bank’s commercial arm, International Finance Corporation, at about 4.8 cents (Rs7.7) per unit on the direct intervention of the prime minister.

The PFIF requested the prime minister to “facilitate in amending the said CCOE decision enabling gazette notification of these lowest wind power tariffs…This will not result in any subsidy, grant or concession; on the contrary, it will pave the way for not only reducing the country’s energy cost, its import bill and circular debt but will also bring in the much needed foreign investment of about $500 million, provide jobs to 700 people during construction and 300 people during operations”.

It is pertinent to mention here that the PFIF argues of making significant investments following government policies and requirements, including those related to the purchase of land which was unavailable for bidding to fresh investors.

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