The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) announced on 18 March said that it had connected 1,100MW Hualong One reactor at unit 2 of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (K-2) to the national grid. It is a pressurised water reactor based on the Chinese HPR-1000 technology. PAEC said it was a ‘Pakistan Day’ gift to the nation.
K-2 is one of the two similar units under construction at the Karachi site and is expected to begin commercial operation by the end of May. 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. The installation of the internals of the reactor of the second power unit was completed in January 2019, and the installation of similar devices of the third unit was completed in April 2020.
Cold functional tests, carried out to confirm that components and systems important to safety are correctly installed and ready to operate in cold conditions, were completed at K-2 in December 2019 followed by hot functional tests in September 2020. Fuel loading began on 1 December 2020 after getting clearance from the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority. K-2 achieved first criticality on 28 February and underwent certain safety tests and procedures before it could be connected to the grid.
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.