GE and Harbin Electric International are hailing “a major milestone” after they carried out the first fire of an advanced GE 9HA gas turbine installed at Bhikki power plant in Pakistan.

The first fire comes less than 17 months after the 1180 MW turnkey project was first announced and also marks the introduction of the 9HA turbine to Pakistan.

Pakistan is facing an estimated 5 GW energy shortfall and the government hopes to meet this deficit with the Bhikki plant.

Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, said the first fire was “a significant milestone towards the completion of the Bhikki project”.

The HA is GE’s largest and most efficient gas turbine and the unit at Bhikki can generate up to 385 MW of power.

“This is the first GE 9HA unit to be operational not only in Pakistan but also in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and South Asia region,” said Sarim Sheikh, President of GE Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

“We are especially proud to help Pakistan be the first country in the region to utilize this record-setting technology and remain committed to powering Pakistan and fuelling progress by working across various fuel sources, including gas, coal, hydro, wind and others.”

GE will supply two 9HA.01 gas turbines for the Bhikki plant while China’s Harbin Electric International is providing engineering, procurement and construction services for the facility.