ADB approves $300mn loan to build hydropower plant in Pak

The Philippines-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced on Tuesday that it has approved a $300 million loan to finance the construction of a 300-megawatt hydropower plant that will boost clean energy in Pakistan and improve its energy security.

The ADB said the plant will add 1,143 gigawatt-hours of clean energy annually to Pakistan’s energy mix, enhancing its reliability and sustainability, reports Xinhua news agency.

It said 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.

ADB Principal Energy Specialist Adnan Tareen said in a statement that the “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 per cent of its identified hydropower potential has been harnessed, according to the ADB.

The country’s power sector relies on imported fuel-based power generation and is burdened with a stressed transmission and distribution network.

The ADB said the Balakot Hydropower Plant will also generate economic activity and improve local communities’ skills.

During construction, the ADB said the project will create more than 1,200 jobs, about 40 per cent of which will be sourced locally, and provide livelihood skills development for women.