Imran Khan inaugurates 1,100 mw Chinese-built nuclear power plant
Recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan virtually inaugurated the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Unit-2 (K-2), a third-generation state-of-the-art plant with improved safety systems. Sources record that the ceremony was simultaneously held at K-2 NPP, Karachi and in Beijing, China, and also marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Speaking on the occasion, Imran Khan said he was happy that the K2 nuclear plant is being inaugurated on the 70th anniversary of Pak-China diplomatic relations “Clean energy is very important for us,” he said, adding that transfer of technology will be beneficial for Pakistan. He said Pakistan is desirous of learning from China in various sectors, counting managing the fast expanding urban centres, poverty alleviation and controlling corruption. PM also said the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being enlarged from connectivity and power sector projects to the establishment of economic zones and agricultural technology. He noted that relations between the two countries were on a high note and that Pakistanis respect and love China because Beijing has always had Islamabad’s back when it mattered most. He said Pakistan can learn a lot from China’s development. The K-2 nuclear plant has internal and external accident prevention ability and enhanced emergency response capability. It has a 60-year life expectancy, extendable to a further 20 years. The power plant is designed with higher plant availability and capacity factors and an enlarged refuelling cycle. According to the Economic survey of Pakistan FY2020, Pakistan is successfully overcoming energy crisis, which has direct and indirect impact on all sectors of the economy, through increase in generation as well as in transmission capacity of the system. Presently, Energy Sector is confronted with demand supply gap, which needs to be filled up along with improvement in energy-mix for its supply at lower cost. In terms of energy-mix, Pakistan’s reliance on thermal which includes imported coal, local coal, RLNG and natural gas has been decreasing over last few years. Pakistan’s dependence on natural gas in the overall energy mix is on decline and the reduction of its share in the energy mix may be attributed to declining natural gas reserves as well as to the introduction of LNG since 2015. The share of renewable has steadily increased over the years (% share, however, in July-April 2020 has declined as compared to same period in 2019). The shares of Hydro and nuclear in energy-mix have also increased in FY2020 as compared to FY 2019. Such historical variability for each energy source in the energy mix of the country has been used to formulate the Integrated Energy Plan. The Integrated Energy Plan will not only help in envisioning the energy demands and respective supply paths of the future but also to formulate evidence based long term policy options. Furthermore, the construction of the K-2 plant started in November 2013, whereas its fuel loading initiated 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 the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). With the inauguration of K-2 NPP, PAEC will be operating six nuclear power plants in Pakistan. Two of them are 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, named as Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1-4. Earlier, the collective generation capacity of all PAEC operated NPPs was almost 1,400 Mega Watts. The inauguration of K-2 with 1100 MW capacity will nearly double these figures, substantially enhancing the overall share of nuclear power in the energy mix. Meanwhile, the 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. It is worth mentioning that the addition of clean, reliable and cost-effective nuclear power, in the energy mix, will greatly benefit the society and country at large.