The Tarbela dam in Pakistan could increase its capacity by 960MW under a plan which is being considered carefully by the country’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).

Tarbela, which currently has a generating capacity of 3478MW, was completed progressively between 1965 and 1970.

A study, which was carried out in 1980, suggested that the project’s fourth tunnel, currently used for irrigation, could be converted to power generation.

Eighteen years later, this study has been revived by WAPDA. A consor- tium led by Cegelec and including Hyundai Engineering, Kværner Boving and the Khanji Group of companies is also reported to have expressed interest. The new extension, which would cost US$450-500M to covert, could be operated under a ‘build, operate, maintain, transfer’ agreement, it has been suggested.

The conversion would cover a power shortfall anticipated due to delays experienced in building another dam named Kala Bagh. This dam has been supported by the federal government and Punjab, but has been the subject of an opposition motion signed by the Sindh, Baluchistan and North West Frontier provinces.

The opposition followed closely on an announcement by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif confirming that the dam would be built and saying that it would help prompt a green revolution in the country, making available about 3600MW of cheap electric power.

He also said that the project would help control the devastation caused by floods each year.

Talking about the Kala Bagh dam, WAPDA said the electricity it produces would cost around Rs0.65/kWh. The dam would initially produce 2400MW from eight units, rising to 3600MW from 12 units.