Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on 21 May virtually inaugurated unit 2 of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (K-2), built by China. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) announced in March said that it had connected the K-2 1,100MW Hualong One reactor to the national grid. It is a pressurised water reactor based on the Chinese HPR-1000 technology.
K-2 is one of the two similar units under construction at the Karachi site. The other unit, K-3, is nearing completion and is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. Both units were supplied and constructed by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) under a contract worth about $9 billion signed between the CNNC and PAEC in 2013. The construction of K-2 began in 2015 and K-3 in 2016.
Speaking during the launch ceremony, Khan said: "This is important for us because Pakistan is among the top 10 countries at risk due to climate change." He said that glaciers supply 80% of Pakistan's water needs. "Glaciers are melting at a rapid speed, and our coming generations will face an acute water shortage as well as food security issues if the effects of climate change are not reversed."
He said that that the project will help to train manpower and facilitate technology transfer from China. He added that Pakistan was also celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations with China. "It is a very unique relationship," he said, noting that it extends to all levels.
"We are confident that China will stand with us during difficult times. It is fortunate for us that Pakistan has strong ties with an emerging power and a developed country such as China," he said, adding that people-to-people contact will also now increase.
K-2 is a generation III, state-of-the-art plant with improved safety systems, especially internal and external accident prevention ability and enhanced emergency response capability, according to Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Muhammad Naeem. He told a webinar on 20 May that inauguration of K-2 and the upcoming K-3 would be a milestone in the country’s quest to increase the share of nuclear power in electricity generation. Naeem said they have been designed to survive any earthquake predicted for the region and can withstand the impact of a large commercial aircraft. He added that the inauguration of K-2 marks a new era of large sized plants with Generation-III reactors.
Hitherto PAEC has been operating five smaller units (one at Karachi and four at Chashma NPP) with collective generation capacity of some 1,400MWe. K-2 will, therefore, almost double nuclear generation capacity.
Image: The K-2 Unit of Karachi nuclear power plant in Pakistan [Photo/CNNC]