Plans to develop 700MW of desert PV capacity in Punjab, Pakistan, have been approved.

The fourth meeting of the newly formed Energy Council of Punjab rubber-stamped plans for the Quaid-e-Azam solar park 'master plan' last weekend.

The Punjab government aims to install, from its own resources, a 700MW series of solar projects, according to Punjab chief minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif. It has set up a state-owned company, the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Co., to deliver the projects.

The first of eight phases will be a preliminary 50MW, which the government hopes to be generating power by the beginning of next year. The minister said the energy council will be “working day and night to ensure the achievement of set targets” continuing that “no stone [will be left] unturned for early completion”.

The projects will be built on 10,000 acres of desert land in Cholistan, which benefits from very high solar irradiance.

Reportedly Sharif commanded construction begin immediately after signing the approval and is in discussion with the Bank of Punjab and the Energy Council finance committee over funding the projects.

Earlier this week Sharif also signed a MoU for a coal project between Qatar, China and Pakistan also in efforts to heal the national energy crisis.

The Punjab government also has an earlier MoU in place with German solar company AEG, which is planning to build 450MW of PV in the province.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s government separately signed MoUs for 150MW with a consortium of European countries and another with China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) as well as 400 smaller solar projects in the pipeline.