Federal Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar said here on Tuesday that the growing energy demand in Pakistan is a challenge for the government. Yet it provides immense opportunities for Chinese investors to contribute towards reducing energy shortage in the country while sharing the benefits. Leading Pakistan's delegation in the first China-Pakistan Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) meeting here, he thanked the Chinese government "for extending every possible support to Pakistan at all times, especially in the hours of need." Qian Zhimin, Deputy Administrator of National Energy Administration (NEA) of the National Development Reform Commission of China, led the Chinese side in the largely attended JEWG meeting. The Minister said that Pakistan has always been proud of having extremely friendly and strong ties with China. He said that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 17th December 2010, "pursuant to which we are conducting the 1st China-Pakistan JEWG meeting, is a clear evidence of the brotherly relationship between the two neighbouring countries." Pakistan, the Minister said, is currently faced with energy demand-supply gap, yet the Government is fully committed to resolve the prevalent energy shortages and achieving energy security objectives on sustainable basis with active support of friendly countries, especially China. "As per estimates of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), there is a deficit of around 5,000 mw in our system, which could further grow in future due to rapidly increasing growth in power demand," the Minister observed. Qamar said the Government of Pakistan has always encouraged and welcomed participation of Chinese entrepreneurs, investors, and manufacturing companies to participate in the development of all sectors of the country's economy especially in the power sector. The Minister pointed out that Pakistan's power sector has never been a new area for Chinese entrepreneurs, investors and power sector companies, as there are already many leading companies actively engaged in various energy projects in Pakistan in different capacities. Pakistan, the Minister said, is endowed with abundant natural resources like hydel, gas, coal, and renewable energy that can be used for power generation purposes. He pointed out that Pakistan has enormous potential for small to medium-sized and large hydro power projects. He told the gathering: "You will be pleased to note that the identified hydropower potential in the country is around 60,000 mw, majority of which is economically exploitable. In contrast, the existing installed hydel capacity is less than 20 percent of the total potential." He said that coal is an equally important local resource of Pakistan. "Our total coal reserves, which are largely at Thar (Sindh), are estimated to be around 185 billion tons. Even if half of these deposits are exploited properly, an additional 100,000 mw would be generated for next 30 years," he added. Pakistan, Qamar said, is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources especially wind and solar energy. "Our government is fully focused to harness these resources and converting them into useable forms of energy," he maintained. Besides, in order to fully encourage and engage private sector in the development of Pakistan's power sector, the Minister said: "Our government has taken various initiatives, which include development of upfront tariffs for multiple fuel/technology based power projects, operation and maintenance of public sector power generation companies (gencos) through private sector, and conversion of existing IPPs to cheaper fuels. The Minister expressed hope that at the platform of JEWG, the energy sector experts of both Pakistan and China would mutually deliberate upon latest energy developments and utilisation practices, exchange views on matters of mutual interest, explore the specific energy projects and appropriate approaches to cooperate with each other in energy related issues. He said during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan in December last year, various important decisions were taken to enhance co-operation between the two countries. Premier Wen on the occasion assured full support of the government of China especially with regards to the provision of financing for conventional (hydel, thermal and coal fired), renewable (solar, wind), and civil nuclear energy projects. The Minister lauded the efforts of NEA in enhancing bilateral energy co-operation between the two countries. "I assure them of full co-operation and support on behalf of the government of Pakistan and hope that with our mutual co-operation, the economic ties between the two countries will grow stronger with the passage of time," he added. The Minister said the government is hopeful that through various initiatives being taken, the existing demand-supply gap would be completely eliminated on sustainable basis and the sufferings of the common people will be reduced to a great extent. The meeting deliberated upon possible avenues of Pakistan-China co-operation in following projects: Neelum Jehlum, Khan Khwar, Debai Khwar, Allai Khwar, Jinnah, Satpara, Darawat, Kohala, Gomalzam, Bunji, raising of Mangla Dam, Ghabir, Nai Gaj, Naulong, Diamer-Bhasha, Matiltan, Suki Kinari, Kotli, Madian, Sindh-Engro Coal Mining and Power Project, Sonda Jherruk Coal project, AES import and coal project, Nandipur thermal power and Chichuki Malian thermal project, besides a host of alternate energy projects. On the occasion, Pakistani and Chinese experts gave presentations on various power sector development projects with the possibility of bilateral co-operation in future including Hydropower Development in China, Overview of Pakistan's Power Sector, Power Industry Development in China, Efforts to Harness Indigenous Coal Resources in Pakistan, Opportunities for Chinese Investors to Participate in Power Sector in Pakistan, Renewable Energy Development in China and Pakistan and Oil & Gas Development in Pakistan and China. The Pakistani delegation comprised Ambassador Masood Khan, Chairman Wapda Shakeel Durrani; MD Pepco Rasool Khan Mahsud; CEO Alternative Energy Development Board, Arif Allauddin; MD Thar Coal & Energy Board, Aijaz Ali Khan; DG Geological Survey of Pakistan, Imran Ahmed; MD Private Power Infrastructure Board, N A Zubairi and CEO Sindh-Engro Coal Mining Company, Khalid Mansoor. The participants from Chinese side included Chief Engineer NEA, NEA Deputy Director Generals for New and Renewable Energy, Power, Oil & Gas, International Co-operation along with their division directors. In addition representatives of China Development Bank, Exim Bank, ICBC, Three Gorges Dam Corporation, China Machinery Engineering Corporation, Dongfang Electric Company, Sinohydro Corporation and HydroChina Corporation. Later, while addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Embassy, the Minister for Water and Power said that to remove bottlenecks and for the implementation of energy projects on fast track basis a "Green Channel" would be introduced specifically for the Chinese companies. He said that the 1st JEWG meeting was very successful and it will be held periodically in both the countries. He said if the implementation of any projects faced bottlenecks these would be removed by streamlining official channels. The JEWG meeting discussed all energy generation projects and their financing, he noted. About Indian concerns on various hydro power projects of Pakistan, he said that it is very clear that Pakistani projects are being built on lower riparian. He said if Pakistan or India have any complaint they can use the channel of Indus Water Treaty to which both the countries are signatories. Moreover, Naveed Qamar said, there is also an international arbitration channel for this purpose. He said that around 80 percent energy projects in Pakistan are being implemented with Chinese assistance. Addressing a reception at Pakistan House, also attended among others by Deputy Administrator NEA, Qian Zhimin, Qamar said that China is the only country that can help Pakistan to get rid of power crisis.