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KARACHI: Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the only utility engaged in generation of electricity through nuclear power in the country, has intensified its activities to meet the nuclear electricity generation target of 8,800MW by the year 2030 set through government's Energy Security Plan formulated in 2005.

With the gross capacity of 1100MW, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plants (K-3) is currently under construction near the KANUPP site in Karachi. The Cold functional tests for K-3 are in progress. K-3 plants are expected to become operational in 2022, said the Pakistan Economic Survey 2020-21, which was unveiled on Thursday.

The second unit at Karachi (K-2) was already connected to grid on 18th March 2021.

Completion of K-2/K-3 project will be a big step that will bring PAEC 2,200MW closer to achieving this target.

There are six nuclear power plants operating on two sites in the country, two units namely Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) at Karachi and four units of Chashma Nuclear Power Plants (C-1, C-2, C-3 & C-4) at Chashma (Mianwali District of Punjab Province). The gross capacity of these nuclear power plants is 2,530MW that supplied about 7,076 million units of electricity to the national grid from 1st July 2020 to 31st March 2021.

Also, the PAEC has undertaken construction of another nuclear power plant at Chashma near Mianwali. The site already is home to four operating nuclear plants. This unit will be called C-5 and it will replicate the design characteristics of K-2 and K-3. As per requirement of Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Punjab, public hearing of Environment Impact Assessment Report of C-5 was arranged at Chashma site in September 2020. Punjab EPA has issued the NOC.

The four units of Chashma are amongst the best performing electricity generating plants in the country, in terms of endurance and availability. Two of these plants, C-2 and C-4 made national records of continuous longest operation for over one year.

The electricity produced by the operating Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) of PAEC is delivered to its clients, K- Electric in Karachi and Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) in the rest of the country.

KANUPP, the oldest of the lot has surpassed its design life of 30 years and has completed 49 years of safe and successful operation. Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) relicensed the plant after expiry of its design life and put a cap on thermal power as well as electrical power. KANUPP was allowed to operate at a maximum power of 90MW.

PAEC, in performing its functions, undertakes planning, construction, operation, radioactive waste management and decommissioning of all its nuclear power plants.

PAEC is planning to develop additional sites to house more nuclear power plants in the future and sites identified throughout the country. These sites are investigated and acquired for future development. Ample technical and engineering infrastructure is already in place to support both the existing and the under construction nuclear power plants.

Skilled labour is being produced regularly by indigenous institutes, imparting state of the art training and education in all relevant disciplines and at all levels, from technical trainings to academic programs. These instruments are enough to successfully support the foreseeable future ambitions envisioned by PAEC for the future nuclear power program of Pakistan, the Economic Survey said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021