Pakistan targets 40,000 MW of nuclear energy

Pakistan targets 40,000 MW of nuclear energy

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has inaugurated K-3, the third unit of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), which will produce 1,100MW, taking the share of nuclear power in the energy mix of Pakistan to exceed 10 per cent.

Setting up new nuclear power plants is extremely essential to keep pace with the nuclear technology. Having the generation factor of over 90 per cent, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) plans to increase nuclear power generation to 8,800MW by 2030, and to 40,000MW by 2050.

A contract for the development of the 1,200MW unit of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (C-5) had already been signed with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). The project is waiting for the government’s sovereign guarantee for financial closure.

PAEC is a federally-funded independent governmental agency, entrusted with the research and development of nuclear power, promotion of nuclear science, energy conservation and the peaceful usage of nuclear technology. Advertisement

The share of nuclear power in the national energy mix has grown at a sharp pace in recent years. With a share of 27.1 per cent, it was the largest contributor to the energy pie in December 2022.

In terms of the fuel cost alone, nuclear was the cheapest source of energy in December 2022 with an average of only Rs1.10/kWh against Rs11.50 for coal and Rs10.50 for the local gas.

The use of nuclear technology for power generation has been recognised as inevitable for GHG mitigation in Pak-INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) as envisioned in the National Climate Change Policy 2012.

Currently, six nuclear power plants are operational in the country. The first nuclear power plant, known as KANUPP-1, started generating 137MW way back in 1971. It was decommissioned in 2021 after a 50-year run.

Meanwhile, the PAEC set up has been running four nuclear power units based on Chinese technology near Chashma, Punjab. With a nameplate capacity of 325MW each, C-1 and C-2 started operations in 2000 and 2011, respectively. The C-3 and C-4 became operational in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and have a gross capacity of 340MW each.

PAEC also established the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 and Unit-3 at Paradise Point beach off Karachi. The two units have a nameplate capacity of 1,100MW each. The K-2 and K-3 started generating electricity in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Advertisement

These six nuclear plants have a combined installed capacity of 3,530MW, constituting a share of 8.1 per cent in the country’s total installed power generation capacity.