PTI Government has reviewed projects linked with CPEC since its inauguration last year. After the high level talks between both the countries, the joint commissions have started exploring more ways to make CPEC profitable for both the countries. Apart from the road infrastructure, CPEC also includes many energy related projects, considering the energy demand and shortfall experienced by Pakistan.
8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meetings were held in Beijing last month and Pakistan proposed to move away from expensive imported fuel-based power plants to hydro power plants. Pakistan has an identified potential of producing 50,000-60,000MW of hydroelectric power. The Chinese side has also suggested that a study on optimization of the energy mix of Pakistan should be carried out at an earlier time as part of the joint study.
Pakistan is planning to explore potential of Jhelum River for hydroelectric power projects. Both sides will discuss 700MW Azad Pattan and 640MW Mahl hydropower projects at the fifth Expert Panel meeting. Karot hydropower project, which is already a part of CPEC, is located on the Jhelum River.
The total installed capacity of this project is 720MW. The 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project is also located on the Jhelum river. All these projects will are built on River Jhelum which has tremendous potential.
The JCC documents also showed that the hydropower projects, proposed by provinces, will be evaluated by the Expert Panel and reviewed by the energy joint group for inclusion in the CPEC list, after completion of the joint study of Pakistan’s power market, according to the JCC’s decision.
Pakistan has also proposed to remove the 1,320MW Rahim Yar Khan imported-fuel power plant from the CPEC list in order to provide structure optimization space for the subsequent power market of Pakistan. The total dependency on hydro-sourced electricity may also increase vulnerability due to changing climate patterns, according to the independent energy experts.