Govt to electrify small isolated villages with solar power: CM – The News International

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Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presides over a meeting to review the progress Sindh Solar Energy Project at CM House on April 6, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday said that according to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s election manifesto, the provincial government would provide solar power systems to energise small isolated villages under the Village Electrification Programme.

During a meeting he chaired at the CM House to review the Sindh Solar Energy Project (SSEP), the chief executive directed Energy Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah to prepare a detailed proposal so that the PPP chief’s plan can be implemented in letter and spirit.

CM Shah said that isolated villages’ electrification through solar-wind hybrid power systems can be carried out through public-private partnership. The private sector/community can be tasked with running renewable energy systems in a sustainable manner, he added.

He said the community would bear the running expenses of the systems, including salaries of the technical staff, and his government would bear periodic expenses of battery replacements for the energy storage systems.

The energy minister briefed the CM that the SSEP is an initiative of the provincial government, with the World Bank financing $100 million as concessional loan approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in November 2018 and revised in July 2023.

The project has four components: establishing 400MW solar parks through competitive bidding, solarising public sector buildings with 50MW, installing solar home systems to electrify 200,000 households, and setting up a solar testing laboratory and training solar system technicians for capacity building.

Component I

Under the Utility Scale Solar component, three parcels of land were allotted in January 2023: 250 acres for 50MW at Manjhand, District Jamshoro, 612 acres for 120MW at Deh Halkani / Murad Band, District West, Karachi, and 600 acres for 150MW at Deh Mitha Ghar, District Malir.

The energy minister said that the feasibility studies of the Manjhand and Karachi sites have been completed. The expression of interest for the pre-qualification process has been completed. Four of the five companies pre-qualified for the Manjhand site, while 16 companies pre-qualified for the K-Electric sites.

The request for proposal (RFP) documents of Manjhand are pending with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and lingering on due to a grid approval issue with the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) and the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB).

The PPIB discussed this agenda in its latest board meeting this January, and it was decided that the NTDC would approve the gird study before Nepra can approve the RFP. The CM directed the energy minister to resolve the issues with Nepra and expedite the project.

The Karachi site RFPs were approved by Nepra, and the pre-qualification process was initiated on March 2, 2024. A boundary wall will be constructed shortly.

Component II

Under the Distributed Solar component, the target is to instal 50MW rooftop solar systems on 110 public sector buildings. In the first phase 34 buildings will be solarised.

Work on 33 of the sites has been completed, and installation work on the last site in Jacobabad will be completed by this month’s end.

In the second phase 34 hospital buildings will be solarised with 21MW. Over 35 per cent of the work has been completed, and sites will be commissioned by June 30.

In the third phase 51 buildings will be solarised with 14MW. In the fourth phase 50MW rooftop solar systems will be installed at the Water and Sanitation Agency, Qasimabad, Hyderabad. A 4MW floating solar system with battery backup will be installed near the Ghulam Muhammad Barrage, Hyderabad.

CM Shah was informed by the energy minister that solar technicians’ training has been conducted in 10 districts, with 300 technicians, with 50 per cent participation of females, now trained in the rural areas.

The meeting was also attended by Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, Principal Secretary to CM Agha Wasif, Planning & Development Board Chairman Najam Shah, Energy Secretary Kazim Jatoi and Finance Secretary Fayaz Jatoi.

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