Bhikki: Powering Pakistan, Fueling Progress
By Sarim Sheikh, President and CEO, GE Pakistan, Iran & Afghanistan
“There is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
At the beginning of 2015, the people of Pakistan faced a spiraling power crisis, with new power not being added quickly enough to alleviate the situation. At this point a rapid fall in natural gas prices, commissioning of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Port Qasim, Karachi, and the development of a new pipeline from south to north gave life to the idea of using natural gas/ LNG as a rapid source to address the power crisis.
But an idea is only an idea…until it is traversed through the combination of the right capabilities, tremendous effort, and an unwavering commitment to its realization. The work by Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power (Private) Limited (QATPL), Harbin Electric International (HEI), the Government, GE, and other partners – specifically on the recently inaugurated Bhikki Power Plant, which now operates in simple cycle configuration – is an ideal example of this.
The Government’s plan to strengthen the country’s energy infrastructure has translated into investment in critical projects and innovative initiatives that will improve the daily lives of citizens over the next few years, while also stimulating economic growth.
Pakistan’s Vision 2025 is an ambitious one, and justifiably so. The vast potential and opportunities within our nation of nearly 200 million people are countless and require a strategy just as diverse and malleable. One of the goals under Vision 2025 is to increase access to electricity to 90% of the population by 2025.
GE is proud to support the Government in helping to meet this goal, most recently, through the inauguration of the Bhikki Power Plant on April 19, 2017. The project will provide up to 1,180 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to meet the average power needs of up to 2.5 million Pakistani homes. Utilizing the world’s most efficient heavy duty gas turbines – GE’s H-Class technology – Bhikki will generate electricity at the lowest lifecycle costs of any gas fueled power plant in the country when it operates in combined cycle configuration next year.
In a clear demonstration of technological leadership, Pakistan will be the first country in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia to use GE’s 9HA gas turbines. The same units also equip EDF’s power plant in Bouchain, France and last year helped them set a world record for combined cycle efficiency. Once Bhikki starts combined cycle operations, it is expected to be even more efficient than Bouchain – a considerable achievement by any means.
Dedication can come in many forms. In this case, it came through the perseverance of the Government, QATPL, HEI, and all other partners who worked around the clock to make this plant a reality, delivering reliable power to the grid just 1.5 years after the turnkey project was first announced, faster than the development of any other gas-fueled power plant of similar size in Pakistan’s 70-year history.
Our role in Pakistan also extends beyond the Bhikki Power Plant. Since the 1960s, when we provided steam turbines for KESC (K-Electric today), GE has strived to bring in leading technologies to help Pakistan meet the need for efficient, reliable, and sustainable energy – today, our technologies can serve to generate up to 25% of Pakistan’s power.
From the introduction of digital solutions at several power plants – designed to improve reliability, efficiency, and reduce unplanned downtime through merging machine technology with sensors, data flows, and the analysis of that data – to more than 1,000 units of GE’s Jenbacher engines operating across Pakistan, our footprint in the nation is both historic and embedded within the country’s growth.
Today, in addition to our contributions to developing the power sector, GE medical devices are installed in more than 70% of large hospitals across the country, GE and GE joint venture engines power more than 60% of the aircraft operated by Pakistani commercial carriers, and GE’s operations create employment and professional growth opportunities for over 400 Pakistanis.
As the country aims to move up to the top 25 economies of the world, GE remains committed to supporting Pakistan every step of the way.