Imran Khan
PM Imran Khan inaugurates 600kV Matiari-Lahore transmission project. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan’s first high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line connecting the southern Karachi region to Lahore in the northeastern region was officially launched on Thursday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the milestone 660kV (kilovolt) HVDC Matiari-Lahore transmission line. The 886-km-long project has been constructed under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“The state-of-the-art HVDC system will help reduce power losses” as Pakistan is currently facing 17 per cent line losses during transmission and distribution of electricity across the electric grid which is causing loss of billions of rupees, the premier said.

The country’s first HVDC line project stretches from Matiari in Sindh to Lahore in Punjab province and will be capable of transmitting up to 4,000MW of electricity. At least 1,973 towers have been constructed under the project.

Reduce transmission bottlenecks

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said the government completed the landmark project within the set timeframe despite the pandemic restrictions. “The project is now operational after vigorous testing in the last six months.” The HVDC system will reduce transmission bottlenecks and technical losses and improve the transmission network reliability, he said. Transmission and distribution remain the weakest link of the country’s power sector causing outages in peak hours.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said the new power project will improve the safety and reliability of the grid system, optimise energy distribution of the entire country and lower the electricity cost. The project has been operationalised under CPEC which has brought US$25.4 billion investment in Pakistan and generated 75,000 jobs, he said.

What is HVDC?
High voltage direct current (HVDC) is a high capacity, long-distance transmission system with considerably lower losses. It can also efficiently integrate renewables while improving power quality, stability and reliability.

Key facts
Capacity to transmit 4,000MW of electricity
1,973 towers constructed
The 886-km-long stretches from Sindh to Punjab

Project details

The implementation agreement and transmission services agreement for the project was signed in 2018 while the initial construction began in December 2018. The project achieved its commercial operation on September 1, 2021. The $1.65bn transmission project has been developed on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) through the special purpose company Pak Matiari-Lahore Transmission. After 25 years of operations, the ownership of the transmission line will be transferred to the state-owned National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC).