Hats off to PAEC



AT a time when the country is facing a severe energy crisis and finds it difficult to sustain power generation through traditional resources, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) deserves appreciation from the nation for its timely completion of another major nuclear power plant, which would add 1,100 MW of electricity to the national grid. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the third unit of Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), jointly constructed with the assistance of China.

As pointed out by the Prime Minister, Pakistan is importing fuel to the tune of $27 billion annually and there was dire need to focus on alternative and cheaper sources of energy including solar, wind, hydel and nuclear.

It is a matter of satisfaction that despite enormous challenges and odds, PAEC is well on its way to achieve the target it has been assigned by the Government for addition of nuclear power to the national grid, which will, in the long run, help realize the cherished objective of bringing down the ever-increasing electricity tariff. The PAEC stands tall as after making the defence of the country invincible, it is working hard and delivering on the crucial front of ensuring energy security for Pakistan.

The timely and successful completion of the second unit of 1,100 MW is a great achievement in the backdrop of an intensive propaganda campaign unleashed by vested interests when agreements were signed with China for construction of two big nuclear power plants in Karachi. Attempts were made to scuttle initiation of the projects on the pretext of safety despite the fact that the PAEC conducted many studies of the site to ensure that the plants could survive the largest earthquake and tsunami that can be expected in the region.

It may also be pointed out that the plants are resistant to terrorist attacks and designed to take a commercial plane crash without letting it penetrate through. Questions were also raised about the efficacy of the technology involved but the successful operation of the two plants has negated such propaganda effectively. Hualong One is China’s third-generation nuclear power technology widely accepted in the current global market.

The Daily Pakistan Observer is proud to be part of the efforts to counter the propaganda campaign by the vested interests and founding Editor-in-Chief of the paper late Zahid Malik organized a Roundtable Conference in 2015 in Karachi where experts addressed all issues and supported these projects of national importance. It is rightly said that construction of K-2 and K-3 has witnessed the ever-deepening of the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan, serving as a model for global nuclear cooperation.

In fact, China has become a major partner of Pakistan in its quest to meet its growing energy needs as apart from extending generous cooperation in nuclear power generation, it is also providing comprehensive assistance for power production under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It was because of the early harvest projects undertaken in the energy sector under CPEC that Pakistan is well on the path to achieve energy security.

Addition of more nuclear power plants is also significant in the context of efforts being made to promote green energy. Contribution of K-2 and K-3 in this regard can be gauged by the fact that each Hualong One unit generates approximately 9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, meeting the annual electricity demands of more than 4 million households in Pakistan. This is equivalent to reducing standard coal consumption by 3.12 million metric tons, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 8.16 million tons, or planting more than 70 million trees.

We have been emphasizing in these columns that apart from cooperation in nuclear power and establishment of traditional power plants, Pakistan should go for intensive cooperation with China for exploiting its hydro-power potential which is 60,000 MW but the country is presently generating only 10,000 MW. Similarly, Pakistan also has great potential for generation of electricity through solar and wind power and these sources can effectively be exploited with friends like Turkey and China.

It is also heartening to hear from the Prime Minister that Pakistan was also likely to sign a contract with China for 1,200 MW of nuclear energy under Chashma-5. As the country is going for more nuclear power plants, we would propose to the PAEC to formulate viable plans for local manufacturing of at least frequently needed components of these plants.