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Nawaz launches country's largest nuclear power project

27 November, 2013

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KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday launched the construction of the country's biggest atomic power plant and vowed to pursue further projects to make nuclear the largest energy source.

The 2,200-megawatt plant is to be built with Chinese technical assistance on the Arabian Sea coast at Paradise Beach, 40 kilometres west of Karachi. Pakistan already has three operational nuclear plants generating a total of around 740MW of power and has begun work on a fourth, in addition to the one launched Tuesday. The government hopes nuclear energy will ultimately provide a relatively low-cost solution to the power cuts.

"This is one of the first steps of our goal of racing towards a loadshedding-free Pakistan," Nawaz told the audience at the site of the plant. The World Nuclear Association has estimated the cost of the new project at nearly $10 billion. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission engineers will work on the project with help from the China Atomic Energy Authority. As Pakistan is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it is excluded from the international trade in nuclear materials and technology, and can rely only on its neighbour China for help.

Nawaz pledged to increase nuclear power generation capacity to 40,000MW in the long term as part of his energy plan. The setting up of the nuclear power plant is part of a string of projects aimed at overcoming the power shortage, which include wind energy generation of 2500MW, CASA project of 1000MW and Tarbella-V extension project, which is to be completed by 2017. The government has already initiated work on the Pakistan Power Park at Gaddani, which will have 10 coal-based power projects of 660MW each, besides plans to import LNG that will help reduce gas load-shedding from the next year.

Prime Minister Nawaz termed the groundbreaking of the Coastal Power Project K-2 and K-3, which are to be completed in six years and generate 2200MW of electricity, "a proud moment in the energy history of Pakistan". "I am grateful to the Chinese government for extending help and support to Pakistan in this hour of need," he said. "Our mutually beneficial collaboration is spread over a wide range of projects in all geographical terrains, from the heights of the Karakoram to the waters of the Arabian Sea."

Nawaz said the enduring friendship that the two countries enjoyed and the unwavering support that Pakistan had been getting from the Chinese government at international forums, continued to be a source of great strength. The prime minister said he had "vowed to toil to see a Pakistan which is secure, democratic, tolerant and with equal opportunities for all; a Pakistan where the business, trade and agriculture flourish; a Pakistan, where the capable and efficient will be treated on merit; where minds are open to new ideas and new ways of development. And this is not a mere dream. It always seems impossible until it is done."


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