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Sharif Opens Pakistan's First Solar Power Plant

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (2nd R), surveys the site of the newly opened 100-megawatt unit Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park, Bahawalpur district of Punjab on May 5.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has inaugurated the country's first solar power plant -- the latest results of increasingly close cooperation with China and a step toward Sharif's election campaign promises to end crippling electricity cuts.

The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Plant in Punjab Province currently produces 100 megawatts of power, and plans to increase its output to 1,000 megawatts by 2016.

The plant is owned by Punjab Province and was built by China's Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock Co Ltd (TBEA) at a cost of $190 million.

At an inaugural ceremony on May 5, Sharif said: "Since I became prime minister my one goal has been to eliminate darkness in Pakistan, and bring lights back to the country."

Sharif said that by the end of 2018, Pakistan will end "load shedding" -- a system of rotating blackouts used to ration electricity.

The new solar energy plant is a link in an ambitious plan for a China-Pakistan economic corridor, unveiled by China's President Xi Jinping in April.

Based on reporting by Reuters and