The U.S. And China have both committed to financing hydroelectric projects in Pakistan. Pakistan has been experiencing blackouts that last up to sixteen hours, disrupting businesses and industry across the country.
Pakistan’s reliance on fossil fuels has made it difficult to produce enough electricity for its nearly 120 million people. Rising prices for oil and increased demand as the population grows have put pressure on the utilities. About one-third of Pakistan’s electricity comes from hydropower. The U.S. and China are trying to change that.
Last year, China’s Three Gorges Corporation announced they were making Pakistan a priority in their overseas investment portfolio. Their plan included 10,000 megawatts of power from a combination of hydropower, wind, solar, and “other electricity facilities” with a total investment of about $15 billion (US). At this time, approximately 1950 MW will be generated by hydroelectric projects being built and another 550 MW from wind and solar. Pakistan shares a 325 mile border with China.
Last week, the U.S. released $280 million in new U.S. funding to improve Mangla Dam, one of Pakistan’s oldest hydroelectric units, and Kurram Tangi Dam. Other hydroelectric projects currently underway include Gomal Zam Dam, Satpara Dam, Muzzabargarh Power Station, Jamshoro Power Station, and Tarbela Dam. Together, these projects are expected to add 900 MW by 2013.
In addition to the power generating capacity these hydroelectric projects will add, access to drinking water and water for irrigation will also improve, reducing Pakistan’s water insecurity.
Phundar River, Pakistan photo via Shutterstock