Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday inaugurated the third unit of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) built with Beijing's assistance under the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Known as the K-3, the plant will provide 1,100 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
While addressing the inauguration ceremony, Sharif said Pakistan’s energy fuel import bill has reached to USD 27 billion and the country urgently needed alternative and cheaper sources of energy including solar, wind, hydel and nuclear.
Sharif said Pakistan has enormous potential of producing 60,000 megawatts through hydel power, but so far only 10,000 megawatts were being produced.
The K-3 is a step forward in the Pak-China cooperation and the electricity projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are greatly contributing to meeting the country’s energy demands, he said.
The CPEC links Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The USD 60 billion CPEC is part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Director General International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi, in a video message, emphasised the importance of the safe use of nuclear energy as Pakistan faced challenges of climate change.
With the introduction of K-3 into the national grid, the share of nuclear power in the energy mix of Pakistan will exceed 10 per cent, according to an official press release.
Cooperation between Pakistan and China in the field of nuclear energy goes back to 1986 when the two nations signed the 'Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy'.
Its first concrete manifestation was the contract between the two nations in 1991 for the construction and installation of a 325-megawatt Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) at Chashma in Punjab.
Three more power plants were set up at Chashma.
A separate contract was inked in 2013 for the construction of two nuclear units having a generation capacity of 1100 megawatts each in Karachi.
The construction work on two nuclear power reactors—K-2 and K-3—was started in August 2015 and in May 2016 respectively.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the commercial operation of the K-2 Nuclear Power Plant on May 21, 2021, according to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
Pakistan’s first Nuclear Power Plant, KANUPP Unit 1 of 137 megawatts, was constructed on the outskirts of Karachi and achieved its first criticality on August 1, 1971. After 50 years of operation, KANUPP Unit 1 power station was permanently shut down on August 1, 2021, for decommissioning, PAEC said.