Whitelee Windfarm. Photo by Mahdi Hasan
KARACHI has been abundantly endowed with one of nature’s riches — wind. Located on the Arabian Sea coast, the city cannot complain of being stifled by desultory stillness. Before the city’s horizon changed drastically with the emergence of high-rise buildings, Karachiites had always enjoyed the luxury of cool breezes during summer evenings. The breeze is still there, but has been trapped by concrete and steel structures. Now the breeze has been left only in poetic idiom to give us solace. Faiz Ahmed Faiz captured its beauty in this line, “Jaise seheraon mein haule se chale baad-i-naseem…” (Like the morning breeze in the desert)
However, the wind that greeted me at Eaglesham Moor (Scotland) was by no means as gentle or pleasant as the baad-i-naseem eulogised by Faiz. It was blisteringly cold — 12 degrees Celsius — at a height of 300 metres above sea level at the Whitelee Windfarm. It was nagging concern and healthy curiosity that led me to the wind farm at Eaglesham, a 20-minute drive from Glasgow. The concern is about Pakistan’s energy crisis that is pushing the country into the abyss. The curiosity relates to our government’s choices in the energy sector.
What I saw was fascinating. With 215 turbines dotting the land in their stately elegance, Whitelee generates 539MW of electricity that is equal to what is needed to light and heat 300,000 homes. The capital investment amounted to £500 million.
Why not tap the potential of a renewable source of power?
Whitelee is spread over 57 square kilometres, whereas in Pakistan the meteorological department has identified a wind corridor in Sindh covering an area of about 9,700 square kilometres with gross wind power potential of 43,000MW. According to the MIT’s Technology Review, various constraints notwithstanding, at least 11,000MW of electricity can be generated in Sindh.
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