Gilgit Baltistan has maximum hydro electricity resources as compared to anywhere in the country. The major hydro electricity sites are as under:
- Diamir Basha Dam - 4500 MW
- Bunji - 5400 MW
- Other small and medium size projects - 22,000 MW
Total Potential: 31,000 MW
Total estimated investment: 60 billion US$
Private Sector investment towards the development of hydro electricity projects particularly small and medium sized projects is required to harness the energy potential of Gilgit Baltistan since State funds are limited.
The region has an area of 72000 square kilometers and a population of nearly two million. It is a mountainous region and the population is widely scattered. A large number of micro hydro power station units have been established in the area. Some small i.e. up to 18 MW hydro power stations have been established on Naltar Nulla during the past forty years in the region mostly relying on foreign aid. Acute shortage of electricity and long periods of load shedding especially in the cold winter months is a common phenomenon. There is a local grid system of 33 KV and a 66 KV line in Gilgit
Generation from the hydroelectric power stations rapidly falls due to decrease in the flow in the winter season. This leads to severe power crises and shortages. A few diesel generators are available, which are operated during peak load time to augment the meager hydel generation at some important places only. But this costs the department 25 cents or more per KWh because of rising prices of diesel transported all the way from Karachi to Gilgit.
Due to non availability of reliable and continuous power supply, establishment of industries have not been possible. Unemployment is on the rise giving fears of social unrest as in other areas of adjoining Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Adequate availability of power will usher in industrial activity and the demand of energy and revenues both will then rise rapidly in near future. Gilgit is now Pakistanís gateway to China along the Karakoram Highway. KKH is being widened to international specification to promote trade throughout the year and later become an energy corridor between China and Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan has the best opportunity to be developed as a trade hub. Hence the need for timely provision of electric energy for establishing business and industry. Presently there is no industrial estate in Gilgit, which can only become viable by establishing new hydro power projects with private sector funding.
The total hydroelectric potential in the country has not been fully investigated, but conservatively estimated to be 45,000 MW. This consists of all sizes of hydropower plants, including storage-based and high-head schemes on mountainous streams in the north and low-head, run-of-the river plants on rivers and canals in the southern plains.
Pakistan has an installed hydroelectric capacity of 5,928 MW of large (>250 MW), 437 MW of medium (>50 MW and <250 MW), and 253 MW of small to micro (<50 MW) plants, mostly in the northern parts of the country. This amounts to 6,608 MW of total capacity, or less than 15% of the identified potential
AEDB is actively working with AKRSP to install 103 Mini/Micro hydro power plants at Chitral and other places in Gilgit Baltistan. UNDP-GEF have committed US$ 1.00 Million for Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) for which AEDB is the Implementing Agency.