By Shahzadi Tooba Hussain Syed
Pakistan’s fourth Nuclear Power Plant has started supplying electricity to the national grid on trial basis. Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit-3(C-3), situated near Mianwali, has been formally connected to the national electricity grid. After completion of several safety related and functional tests, the C-3 will attain full capacity of 340 MWe in December, when inauguration ceremony will be held.
The country’s first nuclear power plant namely KANUPP near Karachi is operational for the last 44 years. The other two nuclear power units at Chashma, C-1 and C-2 are already supplying electricity to the grid for many years. The nuclear power plants C-1 and C-2 are considered to be the best energy generating units in the country with more than 90% capacity factor consistently. These power plants are supplying about 600 MWe.
The new power plant C-3 will add around 315 MWe net electricity to the system. The next unit of the nuclear power generation C-4 at Chashma will start its operation in early 2017.
The other two larger capacity nuclear power plants (K-2 & K-3) at Karachi are also under construction and will be completed in 2020 and 2021 respectively. These plants will further add around 2100 MWe net electrical power in the system upon connection to the national grid.
Pakistan is long being denied by its legitimate right of acquiring nuclear technologies to expand its civil nuclear program. China has cooperated with Pakistan to construct nuclear plants in Pakistan. But now gradually this cooperation is expanding and other countries are making their marks in this regard. Recently, Pakistan and Belarus agreed to cooperate in the field of nuclear energy and on devising a tripartite trade mechanism by involving a third country, most probably China or Russia.
“Belarus and Pakistan want to promote cooperation in nuclear energy for peaceful means,” President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said in a joint news briefing with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The president Alexander Lukashenko was elected to the post in 1994 and is now serving his fifth term and Belarus is among the very few countries that supported Pakistan’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Another important factor of Pak-Belarus cooperation is the Russian factor as Belarus and Russia share a close diplomatic and strategic equation. Elaborating on this assertion, the visit of the Belarus president needs to be seen in the backdrop of Pakistan’s revamped relationship with Russia and developments to this effect.
On cooperation between Belarus and Pakistan, the Prime Minister said, “Our two countries enjoy a warm, cordial and multi-faceted relationship. Pakistan is keen to forge closer ties with Belarus in all fields including trade, economy, investment, industry, education, defence, agriculture, culture and other areas—the momentum of increased high level exchanges between the two countries needs to be maintained.” Belarus has significant expertise in building of heavy machinery including automotive engineering, agricultural harvesting machinery, road construction machinery and dump trucks— Both sides can develop joint ventures and business-to-business contacts in these areas.
A number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two sides during bilateral talks, related to the expansion of areas of cooperation in the field of agriculture, industrial cooperation, crime counteraction, education, postal, customs and banking collaboration.
Nuclear Vision 2050 envisages greater than 40,000 MW nuclear power by 2050 or about 15% of the projected capacity of the country. Currently, energy demand in Pakistan during summers is 18000 MW and supply of power is 13000 MW, which cause of 5000 MW of gap in the demand-supply chain. It is estimated that in next 10 years the demand will grow exponentially making the current demand to twice of present level. The existing installed capacity is 21000 MW which includes thermal, hydro, and nuclear capacities. Here, nuclear option can be best employed to meet the future challenges of demand in Pakistan. Nuclear power plant development in next 17 years can produce 7370 MW of energy and the expansion of nuclear power plants till 2030 will enable the country to raise nuclear power level from 750 to 8,800 MW.