Saudi ACWA poised to start work on Pakistan solar projects next month

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A worker at a solar power plant. Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power is planning a number of solar and wind power facilities in Pakistan. (Reuters/File)
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A worker at a solar power plant. Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power is planning a number of solar and wind power facilities in Pakistan. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 May 2019

Saudi ACWA poised to start work on Pakistan solar projects next month

  • Riyadh-based company signed $2 billion agreement with Islamabad during Saudi crown prince’s visit in February
  • Only about 5 to 6 percent of power to Pakistan’s national electrical grid comes from renewable energy

KARACHI: Saudi-based ACWA Power is set to start Pakistan operations next month by investing in solar projects in the southwestern Balochistan province, a top Pakistani power division official said on Friday, putting in motion an agreement signed during a high-profile visit to Islamabad by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in February.
The crown prince signed agreements of over $20 billion during his trip, including for a $10 billion oil refinery in the coastal town of Gwadar in Balochistan.
“ACWA Power will come to Pakistan after Ramadan,” Irfan Ali, Federal Secretary Power Division, told Arab News. “They will invest in solar projects in Balochistan.”
“Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan; we are trying to switch major parts of Balochistan to solar power,” Ali said, adding that “the exact quantum of the investment [by ACWA Power] will be determined after the survey of projects.”
Riyadh-based ACWA Power, partly owned by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, has a presence in 11 countries including Oman, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, Vietnam, Mozambique, and Egypt with regional offices in Dubai, Istanbul, Cairo, Rabat, Johannesburg, Hanoi, and Beijing.
The company, which develops power and desalinated water plants, signed a $2 billion deal with Pakistan to invest in solar projects during the crown prince’s visit.
Facing enduring energy shortages, Pakistan is taking steps to increase the share of renewable energy in its total energy mix which is at present dominated by fossil fuel at up to 80 percent.
Only about 5 to 6 percent of the power to Pakistan’s national electrical grid currently comes from renewable energy, according to the country’s Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB).
The new government of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power in August, is planning to increase the share of renewable energy (power generated from wind, solar, small hydro and biomass sources) to 30 percent by 2030.
Pakistan today imports more than 95 percent of the solar panels and other renewable energy systems it uses, largely from China. But new high quality solar maps — essential to securing financing for major solar projects — show Pakistan is one of the world’s best countries for producing solar energy because of its arid climate and latitude. The maps were developed by the Alternative Energy Development Board and the World Bank, drawing on data from nine solar data stations and 12 wind masts installed across the country.
The solar maps highlight which regions are most suitable for solar power generation. Balochistan, a desert area with little cloud cover or air pollution, has the country’s largest solar potential, they show. Sindh is another prime location.
Pakistan’s data has been made public as part of the Global Solar Atlas website, giving commercial scale projects ready-to-use seasonal and monthly data.
This means investors do not have to spend significant time and money gathering data for their projects. Instead, they can instantaneously acquire certified data of ‘bankable’ quality that should be acceptable to commercial financing institutions. That can substantially lower the costs around projects, which in turn encourages companies to set up large-scale solar power facilities.
Frustrated with constant power cuts, consumers around the country are already installing small-scale roof-top solar systems for their homes and businesses.
In general, the solar industry is poised for massive expansion, driven primarily by cost reductions. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) capacity could reach between 1,760 and 2,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, according to AEDB.


Pakistan’s PM to visit Bahrain on Monday

Updated 9 min 23 sec ago

Pakistan’s PM to visit Bahrain on Monday

  • Khan will attend the Kingdom’s national day as guest of honor
  • He will also receive Bahrain’s highest civil award and interact with its top leadership

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend Bahrain’s national day as guest of honor on King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s invitation on Monday, said an official handout circulated by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation on his first visit to the Gulf state since assuming the highest political office of his country in August 2018.
“During the visit, [the prime minister] will have one-on-one meeting with His Majesty Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa and hold delegation-level talks with Crown Prince His Royal Highness Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa,” said the official statement. “The exchange of views would cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations and matters pertaining to regional and international issues.”
Bahrain will also confer its highest civil award on the leader of the South Asian nation.
“Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy close cordial ties based on commonalities of faith and culture and marked by mutual trust and understanding,” the statement added. “The bilateral relationship is broad-based and multifaceted, covering diverse fields … Pakistan and Bahrain closely coordinate in multilateral fora including the UN, OIC and GCC.”
The ministry noted that the two countries had also established institutional mechanisms, including Bilateral Political Consultations and Joint Ministerial Commission, to bolster bilateral cooperation.
“Over 100,000 Pakistani expatriate community, which contributes to the socio-economic development of Bahrain, acts as a strong human bridge between the two countries,” the official handout maintained.
“The Prime Minister’s visit to Bahrain will enable the two sides to explore ways and means to further deepen bilateral trade and investments ties,” the statement continued. “The visit is of special significance and will impart a strong impetus to both sides’ endeavours to forge a closer, multifaceted bilateral relationship.”