KARACHI: Karachi Nuclear Power Complex’s KANUPP-2 Nuclear Power Plant with a capacity of 1.1 Giga Watts.
The plant is powered by a Generation III+ HPR-1000 three-loop pressurized water nuclear reactor. In 2015, the Government of Pakistan signed an energy agreement to construct two indigenously built nuclear reactor units at a cost of $9.5 Billion with a gross electrical output of 2.2 GWe. KANUPP-3 is slated to become operational in 2022. Both reactor units will have a design life of 60 years and account for approximately 10% of the country’s total generation capacity.
K2 is expected to generate 10 billion kWh of electricity annually, equivalent to the annual consumption of 3.12 million tons of coal, 8.16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and the afforestation of over 7,000 trees.
The CPEC’s strong early focus on energy generation sprung primarily from Pakistan’s own domestic political priorities. Energy came to be the very heart of the CPEC’s initial phase largely because of a dramatic energy crisis that was affecting the lives and livelihoods of Pakistanis, the country’s macroeconomy, and (as a result) the electoral prospects of those in power.
The promise to solve the “energy crisis” was a key electoral manifesto commitment of the PML-N’s 2013 campaign. As Punjab’s chief economist explained, “energy was the pre-requisite” to everything the PML-N hoped to achieve both developmentally and electorally.
The fact that Pakistan pushed its energy priorities onto Beijing rather than the other way around is demonstrated by the minutes of the first JCC meeting in August 2013. The Pakistani side “shared [that] the energy sector is the most important and critical sector and without its revival, economic activities cannot be re-generated in the country.
” In the same meeting the vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission agreed to take cues from Pakistan by “affirm[ing] that the projects . . . identified by the [Pakistani] Minister [would] . . . be the basis for future bilateral cooperation under the corridor.
.” However, Chinese officials warned that both sides would need to ensure the high efficiency of projects to maximize their benefits when making specific investment decisions within that Pakistan-set prioritization framework.
Within the energy sector, coal would play a key role (see table 1). The Pakistani authorities clearly dictated this priority, and their Chinese counterparts adapted accordingly. For instance, the National Power Policy 2013, one of the very first policy documents approved by the newly elected PML-N government in July 2013, called for the exploration of a “coal corridor.
This plan was made to generate cheaper electricity and to diversify the country’s energy sources with the goal of reducing its overreliance on oil. Accordingly, 47 percent (eight out of seventeen) of the prioritized energy projects under the CPEC between 2013 and 2021 were for coal-fired power plants. These projects accounted for 65 percent of the projected megawatts of power that CPEC sites would produce, a potent reminder of the centrality that the Pakistani government attached to the role of coal.
Pakistani leaders were not only steering the types of projects that received investment but were also asking Chinese firms to speed up the construction of various projects. The Pakistani government put pressure on the Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), the state-owned enterprise (SOE) that holds a 51 percent stake in the project, to rapidly develop the Port Qasim coal-fired plant so it would be ready ahead of the 2018 elections.
The power plant was eventually connected to the country’s electrical grid in just thirty-two months, and the Port Qasim coal power plant began commercial operations sixty-seven days ahead of schedule and ahead of the July 2018 elections. In brief, the power generation projects that dominated the first phase of the CPEC were the result of Chinese accommodations of Pakistani political and economic priorities.