Pakistan Prime Minister Khan inaugurates 1,100 MW Karachi nuclear power plant

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the 1,100 MW Karachi nuclear power plant (KANUPP) Unit-2 (K-2), a third-generation state-of-the-art reactor with improved safety systems. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday virtually inaugurated the 1,100 MW Karachi nuclear power plant (KANUPP) Unit-2 (K-2), a third-generation state-of-the-art reactor with improved safety systems.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Khan said that the unit “will generate 1,100MW of clean energy” which is “important for Pakistan” as it is among the countries most affected by climate change which makes tapping the potential of clean energy critical for the country. Khan has also vowed that by 2030 Pakistan would produce 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The ceremony was simultaneously held in Pakistan’s Karachi city and China’s capital city Beijing as the two countries marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority said that the inauguration of the power plant on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China was significant. “China and Pakistan have been extending support to each other and cooperating in various fields including the peaceful use of nuclear energy” he said expressing hope for strengthened bilateral cooperation in the field.

PM Khan said that cooperation between Pakistan and China on the power plant would also help to train the country’s workforce and facilitate technology transfer from China besides ensuring clean energy.

K-2 nuclear power plant

The construction of K-2 commenced in November 2013, whereas its fuel loading started in December 2020 after approval from Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA). A series of cold and hot functional commissioning tests related were conducted before achieving criticality this year.

The 1,100 MW K-2 Karachi nuclear power plant (KANUPP) unit K-2 was successfully connected to the national electricity transmission grid on March 18, 2021, according to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). It would offer access to affordable, reliable and clean energy and help meet the rising electricity demand. “The K-2 plant has a 60-year life expectancy, extendable to 20 more years.

“It is designed with higher plant availability and capacity factors, and extended refuelling cycle” according to the official statement. The nuclear plant has internal and external accident prevention ability and enhanced emergency response capability.

Another 1,100 MW K-3 unit is expected to be operational by early 2022 further easing power woes. The two new units together will account for nearly 10 per cent of the total generation capacity.

Nuclear electricity

With the inauguration of KANUPP Unit-2, Pakistan now has six operational nuclear power stations and the addition of K-2 would take the country’s nuclear power generating capacity from an estimated 1430MW to 2530MW. PAEC plans to increase nuclear power capacity to 8,800MW by 2030. The new units would help meet the electricity demand, which is around 25,000MW in summertime peak and 12,000MW in the winter.

Pakistan’s current energy mix is formed of about 58 per cent fossil fuels, 30 per cent hydropower and 10 per cent renewables and nuclear power.