Since 2008, Pakistan has been grappling with an acute energy crisis that has hindered economic growth, stalled development, prevented industrialization, reduced productivity and increased unemployment. During the past decades, the country’s power sector has been facing significant challenges, primarily due to the shortage of electric supply, resulting in load shedding and power outages. Electric demand rose at a rapid pace, driven by a growing population and urbanization. Till recently, supply failed to keep pace with rising demand, resulting in a shortfall of generation capacity. The crisis led to widespread protests and unrest, with citizens demanding a solution to the problem. To address these problems, governments have been exploring various renewable energy options, including wind power. According to the Alternate Energy Development Board, Pakistan’s total wind energy potential is estimated to be around 50,000 MW. The coastal regions of Sindh and Baluchistan have particularly high wind speeds, making them ideal sites for wind projects. Pakistan has made some progress in developing its wind sector. The country’s total installed capacity in 2022, stands at 1335 MW from 26 wind farms, with a further 10 farms of 510 MW capacity currently under construction. The first project, the Jhimpir Power Plant, was commissioned in 2013. Since then, several large-scale projects have developed. These include the Gharo – Keti Bandar Wind Corridor initiative, which has an installed capacity of 1,320 MW and comprises of several projects, such as the Sachal Wind Power Project and the Zorlu Energy Wind Power Project. In 2022, Din Energy Pvt Ltd started operations at a 50 MW wind farm after investing a total of $65 Million. Globally, the average electricity Generation cost of onshore wind farms has now fallen to 3.9 cents / kWh. The high upfront capital costs of developing wind power projects, coupled with political turmoil in the country, have made it difficult to attract private firms. Pakistan has been supported by several international organizations, including the World Bank, the ADB and the UN Development Programme, primarily through technical and financial assistance. Private firms such as Sapphire Wind Power Company, Zorlu Energy and Fauji Fertilizer Company tend to dominate the market but several European investors have also expressed interest. Wind power has the potential to play a significant role in meeting Pakistan’s energy needs. Wind is a renewable and clean source of energy, making it environmentally sustainable and ideal for countries facing environmental pollution. Prioritising coal power projects in CPEC was short-sighted, especially since over 85,000 Pakistanis lost their lives to Lung-related diseases and Pakistani cities are now experiencing high levels of air pollution. The deployment of wind power can also help reduce the country’s dependency on imported fuel for thermal IPPs, which is a significant drain on the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Wind corridors in remote regions, such as rural Sindh, Balochistan and Northern Areas, are ideal for small projects with a capacity of less than 10 MW. Wind turbines could provide electricity to communities that are cut off from the national grid or have to rely on shipments of petrol. In Southern Sindh, wind farms would be within a 250 km distance from Karachi, significantly reducing line losses. While Pakistan’s wind power sector has significant potential, some challenges need to be addressed to ensure its success. The existing transmission network is insufficient to accommodate increased power generation. This has resulted in curtailment of power projects since the excess electricity generated cannot be transmitted. Furthermore, the lack of a clear policy framework for renewable energy has been a significant challenge for the sector’s growth. The federal government needs to invest in upgrading the transmission network to ensure that future projects can be connected to the grid, and has to develop a comprehensive renewable energy policy that provides clear guidelines and incentives. Pakistan has also struggled with attracting investment. The high upfront capital costs of developing wind power projects, coupled with political turmoil in the country, have made it difficult to attract private firms. Future governments need to create a stable, enabling environment for investment in the sector by ensuring a level playing field for investors and providing domestic investors with financial mechanisms that enable developers to secure the necessary funding to develop wind power projects. Moving on, there are technical challenges associated with the development of wind power projects, including the intermittency of wind and the need for energy storage solutions. Wind Turbines need regular maintenance and the blades experience erosion, resulting in the turbine having an operational span of 20 years. The intermittent nature of wind means that wind projects cannot provide a consistent source of electricity, and require energy storage solutions to store excess electricity generated during periods of high wind speeds. Energy storage solutions are being developed but there is a need for greater research and development in this area. A high level of technical expertise and knowledge particularly in areas such as wind resource assessment, turbine selection and maintenance, along with a talented workforce, are prerequisites. Finally, the development of wind power projects can have a significant impact on the local community, particularly in terms of land use and resettlement. Provincial governments need to ensure community engagement and consultation to guarantee that the concerns and interests of local communities are addressed in the development of wind power projects. Pakistan’s wind power sector has significant potential and can play a critical role in addressing the country’s energy crises. The country’s high wind speeds particularly in the coastal areas make it an ideal location for wind power projects. However, concentrated efforts on the part of successive federal and provincial governments will be vital for the success of wind power projects. This would entail investments in infrastructure to address transmission bottlenecks and developing a clear policy framework. Tax breaks, subsidies and land lease arrangements would attract greater investment, and developing local technical expertise would ensure that wind projects are developed in an effective and sustainable strategy that maximises their benefit and minimizes their environmental and social impacts. The writer is a freelance columnist.