Swiss Water Planning $200 Million of Projects in Pakistan

Swiss Water Tech Research & Development SA, a green-technology developer, said it’s in line to win about $200 million of contracts in Pakistan to supply clean-power plants that run on waste.

The Neuchatel, Switzerland-based company received a letter of intent from the Punjab state government and will provide the technology for a 100-megawatt project, Chief Operational Operator Ralph Hofmeier said in an interview. Swiss Water is also in talks with private companies for a similar amount of capacity that includes agreements last week with three firms for 17 megawatts.

The plants could run on liquid or solid waste to generate power more cheaply than coal, solar or wind projects, Hofmeier said in Karachi without elaborating. The company is seeking funds from Habib Bank Ltd. that would be backed by a sovereign guarantee from the Pakistan government, he said on Nov. 26.

Swiss Water officials in Pakistan last week signed a memorandum of understanding, Memoona Arslan, communications manager at state-owned Lahore Waste Management Co., said by phone from Lahore. Four thousand tons of solid waste will be needed to produce the 100 megawatts, Arslan said.

The payback period for such investments can be as short as 15 months, according to Hofmeier. A 100-megawatt plant in the U.S., where consumption rates differ from Pakistan, can power about 80,000 average homes, according to electric data.

Pakistan is the sixth-most populous nation with about 200 million residents. The country can suffer power, light and fan outages in some areas of up to 18 hours a day during summer months. Blackouts have sparked violent protests and affected a textile industry that accounts for 54 percent of exports.

Water contamination is such in the country that 15.9 million people, more than Ecuador’s population, lack access to safe drinking water, according to Ehsan Malik, chairman of Unilever Pakistan Ltd. Infectious water-borne diseases in Pakistan are a leading cause of infant deaths from diarrhea, the chief executive said last month.

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