LAHORE: Low credibility and capacity of pertinent regulatory and monitoring bodies, administrative delays and technical uncertainties, lack of infrastructure and logistic support, relatively poor state and underinvestment in research and development (R&D) facilities, and insufficient release of funds for advancing Renewable Energy (RE) projects are major snags to realization of wind power generation in Pakistan said energy experts.

Accordingly, they said, despite the fact that wind is the most promising RE resource for electricity generation in Pakistan, this resource has been significantly underutilized, with the main reasons cited for the limited private sector investment and slow progress in the development of wind power projects.

Talking to Business Recorder, Pepco’s former DG Tahir Basharat Cheema said time-consuming administrative procedures associated with the issuance of different types of licences and approvals and lack of reliable countrywide wind speed data and general absence of wind data for remote locations suitable for wind farm installations is a big irritant in promotion of wind energy generation.

Muhammad Khalid, another energy expert, has pointed out that an undependable grid connection capacity, poor manufacturing facilities and transport services, which demand additional capital investments are crucial to promote wind power generation, which is undermining the cost-effectiveness, economic viability of the wind, and other RE power projects.

He has further pointed out that despite the establishment of the Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technology (PCRET) in 2001 (mandated with the development of RE projects in the country) and the AEDB in 2003, most degree-awarding institutes and universities in Pakistan unfortunately remain deficient in specialized laboratories and (or) equipment necessary for performing high-quality research work in the field of wind-power engineering, with a knock-on effect that sufficient numbers of adequately trained personnel are not being produced annually to meet the industry needs in Pakistan.

According to some other experts, the lack or absence of reliable wind speed data for the country prevents realistic assessments of the wind-energy potentials for possible wind farm sites.

To assemble the wind climatology necessary for a reasonable assessment of the wind-energy resource at an identified site, a minimum 1 year period of wind measurements are required; with the associated degree of uncertainty typically ranging from 5–15%. Realistic assessment of the wind energy potential requires statistical analysis of the wind data, including wind speed (preferably recorded at hub height), speed-frequency distribution, wind shear (i.e. rate of change in wind speed with elevation AGL), turbulence intensity (i.e. standard deviation of wind speeds sampled over 10 min period as a function of mean speed), wind direction distribution and also for extreme wind gusts having return periods of up to 50 and 100 years.

It may be noted that the government has set targets for its Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) to install wind power plants having a combined capacity of 9·7 GW by 2030; that is 5 percent of the total planned national power-generation capacity at that time.

Further, the AEDB has issued over 100 letters of intent to private sector wind-power investors for 50 MW capacity sites; if fully realized, these projects would collectively represent an additional 4·7 GW generation capacity. Various studies have forecasted that by 2030, approximately 50·6, 69·6 and 87·7 GW of wind power projects could be installed in Pakistan for standard, moderate and optimistic scenarios, respectively, representing approximately 42, 58 and 73 percent of the reported total wind-power-generation technical potential of 120 GW for the country.