Structure of the Nuclear Sector of Pakistan and Chashma Plants

In Pakistan, nuclear power makes a small contribution to total energy production and requirements, supplying only 2% of the country’s electricity.

The PAEC is responsible for all nuclear energy and research applications in the country. Its first nuclear power reactor was a small (125 MW) Canadian Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) near Karachi operated by KANUPP, which was commissioned in 1971 and is under international safeguards.The second unit is Chashma-1 in Punjab, a 325 MW (300 MW net) pressurized water reactor (PWR) supplied by China’s China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) under safeguards. The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI) based on Qinshan-1. It started up in May 2000 and is also known as CHASHNUPP-1. Construction of its twin, Chashma-2, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost PKR 51.46 billion (USD 860 million, with USD 350 million being financed by China). A safeguards agreement was signed with IAEA in 2006 and grid connection is expected in 2011.

In 2005, the government adopted an Energy Security Plan, calling for a huge increase in generating capacity to more than 160,000 MW by 2030. It included intention of lifting nuclear capacity to 8,800 MW, 900 MW of this by 2015 and a further 1,500 MW by 2020.Plans included four new reactors of 300 MW each and seven reactors of 1,000 MW, all PWR. There were tentative plans for China to build two 1,000 MW PWR units at Karachi as KANUPP 2 and 3, but China then in 2007 deferred development of its CNP-1000 type which would have been the only one of that size able to be exported. Pakistan is now planning to build smaller units with higher local content.In June 2008 the GOP announced plans to build units 3 and 4 at Chashma, each 320 MW gross and largely financed by China. A further agreement for China’s help for the project was signed in October 2008, and given prominence as a counter to the US-India agreement shortly preceding it.

In March 2009, SNERDI announced that it was preceding with design of Chashma 3 and 4, with China Zhongyuan Engineering as the general contractor and China Nuclear Industry No. 5 Construction Company as installer. In April 2009, a design contract with SNERDI was signed, and the government said that it had approved the project at a cost of USD 2.37 billion, with USD 1.75 billion of this involving ‘a foreign exchange component’. In March 2010, Pakistan announced that it had agreed the terms for Chashma 3 and 4, whereby China would provide 82% of the total USD 1.912 billion financing as three twenty year low-interest loans. The main construction contract was signed in June 2010, and the two 340 MW units are to be completed in eight years. They will have a design life of forty years and be under IAEA safeguards.

However, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) raised some questions about China’s supply of Chasma-3 and 4. Contracts for units 1 and 2 were signed in 1990 and 2000, respectively, before 2004 when China joined the NSG, which maintains an embargo on sales of nuclear equipment to Pakistan. China argued that units 3 and 4 are similarly ‘grandfathered’, and arrangements are consistent with those for units 1 & 2. In November 2010, PAEC is reported to have signed a construction agreement with CNNC for a fifth unit at Chashma, which may revive the prospect of a 1,000 MW class unit if China has an exportable model by 2013 as planned. The planned nuclear power plants are given in Table below:-

To increase the power generation capacity with a view to support economic growth, twenty-five year ‘energy security action plan’ focuses on developing nuclear energy in a relatively bigger way. From only 400 MW of nuclear power generation capacity today, it is projected to increase to 8,800 MW by the year 2030. Thus there will be an addition of 8,400 MW nuclear power to the system, thereby increasing the share of nuclear power from present 2% to about 6% within twenty-five years.

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