Bat­tling en­ergy cri­sis, Pak­istan turns on fourth nu­clear plant

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Pak­istan’s fourth nu­clear power plant went on­line yes­ter­day, a joint col­lab­o­ra­tion with China that adds 340 megawatts to the na­tional grid as part of the gov­er­ment’s ef­forts to end a growth-sap­ping en­ergy deficit. Pak­istan is one of the few de­vel­op­ing coun­tries pur­su­ing atomic en­ergy in the wake of the Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter in Ja­pan in 2011, as it seeks to close an electricity short­fall that can stretch up to 7,000 MW in peak sum­mer months, or around 32 per­cent of to­tal de­mand.

The Chashma-III re­ac­tor, lo­cated some 250 kilome­ters south­west of cap­i­tal Is­lam­abad, is the third built as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Pak­istan Atomic En­ergy Com­mis­sion (PAEC) and China Na­tional Nu­clear Cor­po­ra­tion (CNNC). The coun­try’s first nu­clear plant was sup­plied by Canada in 1972, with an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 137 MW.

“To­day we have crossed an im­por­tant mile­stone in the jour­ney to free the na­tion from sched­uled power cuts. I am thank­ful to Al­lah and con­grat­u­late the en­tire na­tion,” Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif told an in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony at­tended by Chi­nese and Pak­istani of­fi­cials. He added a fourth Chashma plant was ex­pected to be com­mis­sioned by April 2017. Two more re­ac­tors would fol­low at an un­spec­i­fied date in cen­tral Pak­istan, as well as two gi­ant 2,200 MW power sta­tions in south­ern Karachi.

Is­lam­abad is aim­ing to pro­duce 8,800 MW from atomic en­ergy by 2030. Pak­istan has been strug­gling to pro­vide enough power to its nearly 200 mil­lion cit­i­zens for years, and Sharif has vowed to solve the cri­sis by 2018. The en­ergy sec­tor has tra­di­tion­ally strug­gled to cover the cost of pro­duc­ing electricity, lead­ing the gov­ern­ment to di­vert $2 bil­lion an­nu­ally as a sub­sidy, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port com­mis­sioned by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

China mean­while is ramp­ing up in­vest­ment in its South Asian neigh­bor as part of a $46 bil­lion project un­veiled last year that will link its far-west­ern Xin­jiang re­gion to Pak­istan’s Gwadar port with a se­ries of in­fra­struc­ture, power and transport up­grades. Last week Pak­istan’s main bourse an­nounced that a Chi­nese con­sor­tium was set to ac­quire a 40 per­cent stake in the stock ex­change in a deal es­ti­mated at $84 mil­lion. Shang­hai Elec­tric an­nounced in Au­gust it would buy a ma­jor­ity stake in the util­ity that sup­plies en­ergy to Karachi for $1.7 bil­lion, in the coun­try’s big­gest ever pri­vate-sec­tor ac­qui­si­tion.

CHASHMA: In this hand­out pho­to­graph re­leased by Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice yes­ter­day, Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif (C) along with De­fence Min­is­ter Khawaja Asif (cen­ter R) and Sar­taj Aziz (cen­ter L) ad­vi­sor to Prime Min­is­ter on For­eign pol­icy and of­fi­cials pose for pho­to­graphs af­ter the in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony of The Chashma-III re­ac­tor.

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