Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Nation Plagued by Power Shortages Suddenly Has Too Much Electricity

  • Chinese financing helped boost power output to surplus
  • Government to pay power producers $2.8b by Dec. to cut tariffs
Chinese engineers work in a control room at the Port Qasim coal power plant in Port Qasim, Pakistan, in 2018.

Chinese engineers work in a control room at the Port Qasim coal power plant in Port Qasim, Pakistan, in 2018.

Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg

After spending decades tackling electricity shortages, Pakistan now faces a new and unfamiliar problem: too much generation capacity.

The South Asian nation’s power supply flipped to a surplus last year after a flurry of coal- and natural gas-fired plants were built, mostly financed by the Belt and Road Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Pakistan is slated to have as much as 50% too much electricity by 2023, according to Tabish Gauhar, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan for the power sector.