ISLAMABAD - Pakistan in a bid to meet the future energy needs of the country has finally decided to set up another 1,000 megawatts nuclear power plant for Karachi which is likely to be built with the cooperation of time-tested friend China.
The documents available with The Nation reveal that the finance ministry has released Rs465 million to the concerned department for the pre-project feasibility and design study of the planned Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-2. Initially, Rs790 million were allocated for this purpose.
Under the Energy Security Plan for 2005-2030, Pakistan plans to generate 8,800MW from nuclear source. Currently, nuclear power accounts for 700MW of Pakistan’s 18,000MW power generation capacity, of which 12,350MW is thermal while 4,900MW comes from hydro-power plants.
Pakistan currently has three nuclear power plants – an one aging 137MW plant in Karachi, which is operating at half capacity as it has completed its natural life, and two China-supplied 325MW plants in Chashma, dubbed as Chashma-1 (CHASNUPP-I) and Chashma-2 (CHASNUPP-II). The 300MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-I has a pressurised water reactor and it began commercial operation in 2000 while the 300MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-II was officially inaugurated in May, 2011 by the then Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raz Gilani.
Work is in progress on two identical plants at Chashma, dubbed as Chashma-3 (CHASNUPP-III) and Chashma-4 (CHASNUPP-IV), which China has already agreed to supply, and these are likely to be operational in next year and the in 2016, respectively. Similarly, negotiations held between both neighbouring countries to set up at least six nuclear power plants at different sites in Pakistan to be commissioned by 2023 would bore fruits in future in the form of tapping alternative energy sources of Pakistan.
Sources were of the view that as Pakistan needed alternative energy sources to meet escalating demand and supply gap of electric power so with the completion of the new 1000MW plant at Karachi, electric power consumers would get relief in the form of continuous electric power supply and lower per unit price because currently the per unit price of electric power for the above said nuclear power plants is Rs4-5 while the price for some power plants running with the Furnace oil stands at Rs20 per unit.
In November 2006, the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) approved an agreement with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for new nuclear power plants to be built in the country with Chinese assistance. Similarly, Pakistan and China both had maintained that the supply of nuclear plants to Pakistan and Chinese cooperation for indigenous manufacture of nuclear power plants in Pakistan were already envisaged in a comprehensive cooperation agreement concluded in 1986.
During the talks held so far in this regard between both neighbouring countries, it was discussed that two nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 2,000 megawatts from China would be bought and would also be constructed with its cooperation in Karachi while under the proposed deal, four plants would be set up at Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and the capital of Sindh province, one would be at Sukkur in the interior of Sindh, and at least one more would be at Chashma in the Mianwali district of Punjab.