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May 22, 2021

Pakistan’s newest nuclear plant boosts grid by 1,100MW

May 22, 2021


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday formally inaugurated the 1,100MW Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (K-2), set up in collaboration with China, and stressed the generation of clean energy is important owing to Pakistan’s particular vulnerability to climate change.

The ceremony was held simultaneously via video-link at K-2 nuclear power plant in Karachi and Beijing and also marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister said Pakistan is among the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, adding the reversal of its fallout is vital to save the coming generations. He said the K-2 nuclear plant will greatly contribute to the production of clean and cost-effective energy for the benefit of the people and environment.

He also expressed satisfaction that with the strenuous efforts of Chinese and Pakistani engineers, the state-of-the-art K-2 nuclear facility will produce 1,100 megawatts of electricity for the national grid. He said Pakistan and China’s 30-year-long nuclear cooperation resulted in the materialising of several projects besides the transfer of technology and technical expertise to Pakistani scientists and manpower. Khan said Pakistan values its unique relationship with China, which is equally strong at the strategic, political and people-to-people levels. He said the Pakistani nation regards China as a friend that always stands with it in difficult and trying times.

“We are fortunate to have China as our neighbour, a rising global power from which [we] can learn a lot in multiple fields,” he said. He mentioned that China’s expertise in eradicating extreme poverty, fight against corruption and capacity to produce high-yielding crops and livestock are examples to follow.

The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for its role in the operation of nuclear power plants in the country.

PAEC Chairman Muhammad Naeem said with the inauguration of K-2 plant, the PAEC is operating six nuclear power plants in the country—two in Karachi, namely, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-1 (K-1) and Unit-2 (K-2), while four at Chashma, in District Mianwali, called the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant units 1-4.

Naeem said under the obligations of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the PAEC is at the forefront of fighting climate change and is contributing around 12 per cent of electricity to the national grid.

The event was also addressed by the Chinese and other foreign officials through video-link. China Atomic Authority Chairman Zhang Kejian said the launch of the K-2 nuclear plant on the 70th diplomatic anniversary of Pakistan and China is a demonstration of both countries’ commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for the socio-economic benefit of people. He said the nuclear projects would not only help the generation of electricity but also produce thousands of jobs for the local people. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Chairman Yu Jian Feng said technology transfer and nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan will further achieve new heights. He said the nuclear facilities are being run under strict safety compliance.

IAEA Director General, in a video message, said Pakistan’s longstanding collaboration with the IAEA stretches back to the 70s as the country pursued its nuclear programme under safety guidelines. To meet its rising energy needs, nuclear generation plants are important for Pakistan, he added.

The K-2 nuclear plant has internal and external accident prevention ability and enhanced emergency response capability. The plant has a 60-year life expectancy, extendable to a further 20 years. It is designed with higher plant availability and capacity factors and an extended refuelling cycle. The construction of K-2 commenced in November 2013, whereas its fuel loading started on December 1, 2020, after approval from the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA).

A series of cold and hot functional commissioning tests related to plant operation and safety were conducted, before achieving criticality at the end of February this year. After further reactor physics tests, the plant was connected to the national grid on March 18 for trial operation and power escalation tests, according to the information made available by PAEC.

Earlier, the collective generation capacity of all PAEC operated plants was around 1,400 megawatts. K-2’s with 1,100 MW generation capacity will nearly double these figures, substantially improving the overall share of nuclear power in the energy mix. Meanwhile, Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-3 (K-3), with a similar capacity is also in the commissioning phase and is expected to start production during the first quarter of 2022.