The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $300 million loan to finance the construction of a 300-megawatt hydropower plant that will increase the share of clean energy in Pakistan and improve the country’s energy security. The plant will add 1,143 gigawatt-hours of clean energy annually to the country’s energy mix, enhancing the energy sector’s reliability and sustainability. The plant, which will incorporate seismic strengthening and climate-proofing measures, will be built on the Kunhar River near Balakot City in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and commissioned by 2027.
Commenting on the step, ADB Principal Energy Specialist Adnan Tareen, said, “Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change, with water resources and energy particularly at risk from floods, droughts, high temperatures and other extreme weather events. In line with Pakistan’s climate change adaptation and mitigation priorities, this climate-resilient hydropower plant will boost the country’s clean energy generation while effectively utilizing its vast water resources.”
Pakistan is rich in hydropower resources but only around 16% of its identified hydropower potential has been harnessed. The country’s power sector is reliant on imported fuel-based power generation and is burdened with a stressed transmission and distribution network. To balance the energy mix and reduce its dependence on imported fuel, the government has committed to increase its untapped renewable energy potential in hydro, solar, and wind.
Balakot Hydropower Plant will also generate economic activity and improve the skills of local communities.