KARACHI: Pakistan's largest nuclear power plant (K-2) was opened on Friday, generating electricity for the national grid as the country tries to wean itself off its reliance on fossil fuels.
The facility, built with Chinese assistance, in Karachi is Pakistan's sixth nuclear power plant and dramatically increases its nuclear energy capacity.
China is a close ally of Pakistan and has invested billions in the energy sector, largely coal-fired power production.
At a ceremony in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the plant would produce 1,100 megawatts of clean energy, taking the country's total nuclear energy production capacity to 1,400 megawatts.
"This is important for us because Pakistan is among the top 10 countries at risk due to climate change," he said.
Pakistan has struggled with energy shortages and rising power prices.
Khan said last year that Pakistan would not pursue any more power based on coal, though it was not clear the impact on a number of coal projects still being planned.
The nuclear plant was designed by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and construction started in 2015.
A seventh nuclear power plant is planned to begin operations by 2022.-Reuters
BR staff reporter Zaheer Abbasi adds: The Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday virtually inaugurated 1,100MW nuclear power plant Karachi-2 and stated that clean energy is very important for Pakistan as the country is among top 10 countries at risk due to climate change.
Speaking after virtual inauguration ceremony of commercial operation of 1,100 MW K-2 Power Plant, simultaneously, held at Islamabad and Beijing on Friday, the prime minister said Pakistan’s glaciers, which supply 80 percent water to the rivers, are rapidly melting and if this trend is not reversed the coming generations will be facing serious danger of water scarcity, adding that the country's agriculture and food security depend on rivers.
The prime minister said “I’m glad to inaugurate K-2 power plant because it would be producing clean energy like hydro power plants.”
Additionally, as mentioned by Chinese Atomic Commission Heads that Pakistani manpower was provided training as over a period of time 40,000 Chinese scientists visited Pakistan.
The premier stated that this means that Pakistan's major issue of technical education and technology transfer would be possible through this power plant.
The advantages of technology transfer would be great for Pakistan, he added.
“We are also celebrating 70 years of Pakistan-China diplomatic relation, and this relation is unique and has gone down to the grassroots level, because people of Pakistan, firmly believe that China would stand by Pakistan in its difficult times. This is an emotional attachment with China of Pakistan,” he added.
The prime minister said that Pakistan has been fortunate that its neghbour China is now one of the two top powers, “and the world also predicts that at the rate it is growing, no one would be able to stop it [China].”
He said Pakistan can learn a lot from Chinese development and progress as well as its efforts to deal with the climate issue, the way it reduced poverty and dealt with the corruption.
He said that Pakistan's present government's primary focus has been to lift the people out of poverty.
The prime minister, while referring to the previous Chinese ambassador, stated that he told him that China had punished 425 ministerial level people over corruption charges.
“Unfortunately, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has been functioning for the last 22 years, is unable to control corruption, simply because it is taking action against weak people and not the powerful,” he said.
The prime minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is an important project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is now expanding to special economic zones, after the power plants and road connectivity.
Pakistan can learn a lot from China in agriculture field because China’s productivity in agriculture is much greater that Pakistan’s.
APP adds: “We are fortunate to have China as our neighbour, a rising global power from which 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 were the examples to follow.
The prime minister lauded the efforts of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in operationalization of nuclear power plants in the country.
Chairman PAEC Muhammad Naeem said with inauguration of K-2 NPP, the PAEC was operating six nuclear power plants in the country – two located in Karachi, namely Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-1 (K-1) and Unit-2 (K-2), while four sited at Chashma in District Mianwali called Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1-4.
He said under obligations of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the PAEC was at forefront of fighting climate change and was contributing around 12 percent electricity to the national grid.
The event was addressed by the Chinese and other foreign officials through video-link.
Chairman China Atomic Authority Zhang KeJian said the launch of the K-2 nuclear plant on the 70th diplomatic anniversary of Pakistan and China depicted their will that both countries were committed to peaceful use of nuclear energy for the socio-economic benefit of people.
He said the nuclear projects would not only help generation of electricity but also produce thousands of jobs for the local people.
Chairman China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Yu Jian Feng said technology transfer and the nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan would further achieve new heights. He said the nuclear facilities were being run under strict safety compliance.
Director General IAEA in a video message said Pakistan’s longstanding collaboration with IAEA stretched back to 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 01, 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, 2021 for trial operation and power escalation tests, according to the information made available by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
Earlier, the collective generation capacity of all PAEC operated NPPs was around 1,400 Mega Watts.
The inauguration of K-2 with 1100MW 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 first quarter of 2022.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021