The Neelum-Jhelum project, one of the largest hydropower stations in Pakistan, will see its first turbine generator officially start supplying electricity to the national grid on Friday, said the Chinese contractor.
The project, roughly 200 kilometers northeast of Islamabad, has four generators with a total capacity of 969 megawatts. The second generator will start trial operation this month, followed by the third and fourth units in the latter half of the year, according to China Gezhouba Group Co. Ltd. (CGGC), also the main builder of the Three Gorges project.
Designed to generate 5.15 billion kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually, the project aims to ease power shortages in part of Pakistan and is estimated to generate a fiscal revenue of 45 billion rupees (442 million U.S. dollars) annually, said the Chinese construction giant.
The Neelum-Jhelum project is an engineering marvel as 90 percent of the project lies underground in high mountainous areas. The project involves constructing a dam on the Neelum River, a waterway system comprising 68-kilometer-long tunnels and an underground powerhouse on the Jhelum River.
Construction of the project began in January 2008 after a Chinese consortium that includes CGGC and China Machinery Engineering Corp. was awarded a 21-billion-yuan contract in 2007. CGGC said the project will provide about 8,000 jobs for locals.
CGGC, headquartered in central Chinese city of Wuhan, is also known as the builder of the Gezhouba Dam, China's first hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River.
Currently its biggest under-construction overseas projects include the 29.6-billion-yuan Caculo Cabaca hydropower plant in Angola and a 36.9-billion-yuan project on the Santa Cruz River in Argentina.