Fuel loading starts for nuclear power plant testing

Published December 2, 2020
Pakistan on Tuesday started loading fuel to the 1,100MW nuclear power plant in Karachi for testing in run-up to its commercial operations in April 2021. — Reuters/File
Pakistan on Tuesday started loading fuel to the 1,100MW nuclear power plant in Karachi for testing in run-up to its commercial operations in April 2021. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday started loading fuel to the 1,100MW nuclear power plant in Karachi for testing in run-up to its commercial operations in April 2021 while the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government signed agreements with a Chinese company for construction of a 700MW hydropower project.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said fuel loading for the newly built Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (K-2) was started on Tuesday after obtaining fuel load permit from the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

K-2 is a pressurised water reactor based on the Chinese HPR-1000 technology and a third generation plant equipped with advanced safety features, according to the spokesperson. The construction of K-2 plant started on Aug 31, 2015 and its commercial operation will begin in April 2021 after undergoing several operational and safety tests.

Agreements signed with Chinese firm for construction of hydropower project in Azad Kashmir

K-2 is one of the two 1,100MW nuclear power plants being constructed at Karachi. The other plant, K-3, is expected to become operational by the end of 2021. The completion of these nuclear power plants has remained largely on schedule despite the difficult times due to Covid-19 pandemic. The fuel loading was witnessed by Director General of the Strategic Plan Division Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj, PAEC Chairman Mohammad Naeem and senior Chinese and Pakistani officials.

Separately, the AJK government and Chinese firm China Gezhouba Group and its local partner Laraib Group signed implementation agreement and water use charges agreement for construction of Azad Pattan Hydropower Project as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

With an investment of over $1.35 billion, the 700.7MW project would involve no fuel import and enable the country to move towards cheaper and greener power generation, said AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan on the occasion.

Federal Minister for Power Omer Ayub Khan, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Chairman of defunct-CPEC Authority retd Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, AJK Chief Secretary Dr Shahzad Khan Bangash and Managing Director of Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) Shah Jahan Mirza attended the agreement signing ceremony.

The project agreements — GoAJ&K Implementation Agreement and GoAJ&K Water Use Agreement — were signed by Zafar Mahmood Khan, electricity secretary of AJK, and Li Xiaotao, CEO of Azad Pattan Power Private Limited.

The Government of Pakistan Implemen­tation Agreement, Government of Punjab Water Use Agreement and Tripartite Power Purchase Agreements of the project had already been signed in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan in July this year. Tuesday’s agreement signing will enable the achievement of financial close of the project.

The letter of support (LOS) for the project was issued by the PPIB to Azad Pattan Power Project Limited. It is a run-off-the river scheme on River Jhelum located at the dual boundary between AJK (Bagh district) and Punjab (Rawalpindi district).

China Gezhouba Group and Laraib Group Pakistan are the shareholders of the project. The consortium of lenders consists of China Development Bank, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China.

Azad Pattan Project is being implemented by the PPIB under the Policy for Power Generation Projects 2002 on built, own, operate and transfer basis for a term of 30 years after which it will be transferred to the AJK government free of cost. The project is expected to provide about 3,266 GWh electricity per year to the national grid by 2027.

The project would a play crucial role in stimulating local economy by providing employment and business opportunities during its construction periods, said the ministry of power. The governments of AJK and Punjab would earn significant amount of revenue on account of taxes, fees, etc.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2020

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