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A 17 megawatt run-of-river plant harnesses Pakistan’s rich clean energy potential, generating enough power to service about 600,000 new connections or 4.8 million people. 

For years, this country has struggled with the fluctuating global prices of oil needed to feed the power plants that drive the economy.

“Imported oil is the main source of Pakistan’s power supplies, and this has put a severe strain on the country’s finances,” said Ehtesham Zafar Khattak, a senior project officer at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) office in Pakistan. “Power shortages, estimated at over 5,000 megawatts during peak demand, have led to blackouts and load shedding which in turn have caused economic and social turmoil.”

Part of the solution to this problem is the Indus River, which roars down from some of the world’s highest mountains and glaciers and feeds into a vast network of smaller rivers and streams. The mighty river flows from the mountains of northern Pakistan’s high passes, deep gorges, and rolling hills to sweep across the vast irrigated plains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh provinces before reaching the Arabian Sea on the southern tip of the country.

The Indus River network is estimated to hold electricity generation capacity of 60 to 70 thousand megawatts, triple the total current national electricity demand. The power of the river could change the way Pakistan generates electricity.

Hydropower was once a major source of energy in Pakistan, accounting for nearly 45% of all electricity generation in 1991. However, this share has dropped to about 28% due to a decline in the construction of hydropower plants and rising demand. The share of thermal generation has risen to about 70%, with most plants using unaffordable oil or gas.

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