Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated construction work on a China-backed $10 billion nuclear power project near Karachi to add 1,100 MW to the energy-starved country’s electric grid.
Two new nuclear power plants, K2 and K3, will be built near Kanupp (Karachi Nuclear Power Plant) which was built 43 years ago.The projects will be implemented with assistance from China, which has become the biggest investor in energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan.
The groundbreaking of K-2 and K-3 power plants was performed by the Prime Minister in November last year. The plants, located just 20 miles from the burgeoning metropolis of around 20 million people, have stoked fears among scientific experts and residents, and its construction was earlier stayed by a court order.
Temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius in the country’s centre in June and July, sending demand for electricity soaring and leaving a shortfall of around 4,000 MW. Pakistan is one of the few developing countries in the world pursuing atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.
The proposed plants, which cost around $5 billion each, are particularly controversial because their designs have never been tested in real life. Karachi, which lies close to the confluence of three major tectonic plates, is also rated by experts as being particularly vulnerable to tsunamis.
Pakistan meanwhile plans to double the 600 MW of power produced by the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant in the central Punjab province. Pakistan’s key ally China in April announced it would invest $46 billion in infrastructure, energy and transport projects as part of an ambitious project dubbed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.