The Karot hydropower station on the Jhelum River in northeastern Pakistan is seen in the file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]
The first hydropower project along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-the Karot hydropower station-closed its diversion tunnel gates on Nov 20 and started to impound water, which will enhance regional connectivity and the local economy, said its operator China Three Gorges Corp.
With most construction work of the station completed, the project is the first large-scale hydropower project backed by the Belt and Road Initiative and is expected to go into operation in 2022 as scheduled, the operator said.
Located on the Jhelum River in northeastern Pakistan, the Karot hydropower project, which has been under construction for six years, has an installed capacity of 72,000 kilowatts and a total investment of $1.74 billion. The project started construction in April 2015 and its construction has been on schedule despite the impact of COVID-19, CTGC said.
An analyst said the project will ensure sufficient and affordable power for locals while it will also help the country in its transition toward a greener energy mix.
The project is very important for Pakistan, with tremendous benefit going to the provincial government. Once completed, consumers in Pakistan will enjoy cheaper electricity from this basic project, said Noorul Arifeen Zuberi, senior consultant of the China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd.
Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute, echoed his views and said the project has taken advantage of the local situation and is a good example of exploring sustainable methods in a developing country.
"The BRI has been well-received by more countries in recent years and China's investment in the participating countries and regions has also been on the rise," Luo said.
"Against the backdrop of carbon neutrality, green investment has become a trend and the construction of the Karot project is also in accordance with the trend."
When completed, the power plant will generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, meeting power demand of 5 million people. It will also reduce 3.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually and save around 1.4 million tons of standard coal equivalent each year, which as a result will effectively alleviate local power shortages and spur economic growth.
Lei Mingshan, chairman of the corporation, said the project is at a key point of construction. The company will push forward the project and provide strong support for local sustainable development.
The company has been actively participating in the BRI in recent years with several clean energy projects in BRI markets being signed under the framework. Its global business is now scattered in more than 40 countries with a total investment of around 180 billion yuan ($28.19 billion), it said.