Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed critics of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park while speaking at a press conference on Friday, saying people claiming hydel electricity is a better option simply have no knowledge of the numbers involved
Sharif said that some sections of media have talked about the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park and given the impression that the 100 megawatt project could only generate 10 to 12 megawatts of electricity at the supposed cost of Rs 18 billion, and cited it as a poor choice compared to hydel electricity which would have provided 90 megawatt at a much lower cost. The CM added that while it was true that hydel electricity came at a low cost, all the other figures being associated with it were incorrect.
The CM reiterated that the solar project is slated to produce an average of 17 to 19 megawatts of energy, while it is capable of producing over 80 to 85 megawatts during the day time. In the light of these facts and figures, he said that the Central Power Purchase Authority has admitted that an average of 80.5 megawatt electricity is being generated through the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park.
The CM then addressed concerns about the cost of the project and said that contrary to popular belief that the project had been completed at Rs 13.5 billion, including the tax, and not Rs 18 billion. He said that its EPC cost including tax comes to USD 133.54928 million.
He said that some sections of the media had suggested that a hydel plant at the same cost would have provided 90 megawatts of electrify. To dispel this belief he quoted figures from a Private Power and Infrastructure Board, an institution of Ministry of Water & Power. According to these figures, a new long scap hydro project, which has been set up seven kilometer downstream from Mangla has an EPC cost of USD 152 million. The cost of electricity generated through this project for first year is 10.2 cent, second year 10 cent and 9.9 cent for third year while plant factor is 63 percent and this will produce an average of 63 megawatts.
The foundation of the project was laid in 2009 and it was completed in 2013. Similarly, the Gulpur Hydro Project produces 100 megawatts, while its EPC cost is USD 235 million, and its per megawatt price is USD 2.35 million – two times more than the Bahawalpur Solar Project. Its plant factor is 53 percent while its tariff has been fixed at 9.46 cent.
He said that had the hydel project been set up at Bahawalpur than its plant factor would have been 55 per cent and this project would be completed after five years. He said that the 100 megawatt hydel project provides 80 megawatts of electricity at present. However, this is only when there is water in rivers but in winter, when there is no water, less electricity is generated. The CM said the Bahawalpur Solar Project is providing an average of 18.5 megawatts of electricity.
He said that the Mehran valleys have wind projects of 250 megawatts. The cost per megawatt is USD 2.1 million, whereas the cost per megawatt of solar electricity is USD 1.33 million. He said that the average production of a 100 megawatt wind power plant is 28 to 30 megawatts, whereas the solar plan can produce is 18.5 megawatt.
Sharif said that we have reduced solar prices from 16.3 cent to 14.1 cent and thus saved Rs 2 billion for the people of Pakistan. NEPRA has also had to reduce its tariff for solar power because of this.
He said that solar projects are completed faster than any other source of energy, as neither oil nor gas is spent on them, which costs billions of rupees in imports.
He said that electricity can be provided to 54,000 houses through the solar power project for 25 years. He said that no channel talked about the wind power project whereas these facts should have been presented before the nation.