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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has initiated consultation for a way forward on dozens of stalled wind and solar PV projects under category-III, after being highlighted by Sindh and Balochistan governments, besides National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), which is interested in six stalled projects.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a Committee comprising Minister for Defence (Convener), Minister for Power, Minister for Commerce, Minister Human Rights, and Minister for Narcotics Control, Minister for Communication and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Establishment. However, later Minister for Law and Justice was also been included in the Committee.

According to PM’s directives, the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the Committee shall include analysing the issues and recommending a way forward regarding stalled wind and solar projects of category-III of RE Policy 2006.

According to sources, Prime Minister Office has sought daily update on the directions of Prime Minister in this regard.

According to decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE), duly upheld by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) while approving the ARE Policy, 2019, Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has been mandated by the Federal Government to conduct competitive bidding among the Letter of Intent (LoI) holders set forth in Category-III of the CCoE decisions.

As per the decisions of the CCI, the Category-III projects are allowed to proceed ahead subject to becoming successful in the competitive bidding process to be undertaken by AEDB for each technology based on: (i) the quantum ascertained by Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP); and (ii) confirmation of Interconnection Ready Zones (IRZs) by NTDCL.

PM for early completion of renewable energy projects

The IGCEP 2021 approved by Nepra on September 24, 2021, allocates a quantum of 1000 -MW each for induction of wind and solar power capacity through competitive bidding by year 2024. Furthermore, the information/ confirmation pertaining to IRZs have also been provided by the NTDC/Discos.

According to CEO, AEDB, Shah JahanMirza, the category-III includes 31 wind projects with cumulative capacity of 2,139-MW and 69 solar PV projects of 4,193-MW. As per the eligibility criteria for Category-III projects, only the projects having valid LoIs and land can participate in the bidding process. Furthermore, the land of the LoI holders must be located within a certain radius of the IRZs.

As per the information gathered from the provincial energy departments, 22 wind projects of 1289-MW capacity and 27 solar PV projects of 1570-MW capacity with valid LoIs and land are falling under the IRZs provided by NTDC/ Discos.

Keeping in view the capacity of the LoIs with land falling under the IRZs and to create competition amongst the LoI holders, AEDB has proposed that a quantum equal to approx. 25% of the LoIs falling under the IRZs and having land available with them may be allocated for Category-III wind and solar projects which will bring approx. 322 MW capacity of wind and approx. 392-MW capacity of solar PV into the national grid.

As per the decision of the CCI, the LoIs of unsuccessful bidders (including those who do not participate in the bidding process) shall stand lapsed/b cancelled and the Bank Guarantees (BGs) provided against the LoIs will be returned in full.

AEDB, sources said, has sought consent of Power Division and Provincial Governments on the proposal enabling AEDB to proceed further with the competitive bidding process of category-III wind and solar PV projects. Further written confirmation in respect of lapsing/ cancellation of the LoIs of unsuccessful bidders may also be provided.

According to sources, Khawaja Asif-led committee has yet not started deliberations on the stalled wind and solar projects of category-III. The Committee will have to submit its recommendations to Prime Minister soon, after which a final decision will be taken.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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