In the twenty-first century, states are unanimously planning and shifting towards peaceful nuclear power to ensure long-term energy security. Pakistan is also one of the ‘energy deficient’ states that focus on energy security to fulfill its socio-economic requirements. It has a modest Nuclear Power Program (NPP), which is increasingly being viewed as a gap filler in the energy calculus and can mitigate energy crises. To address the ongoing energy crisis, issues of power shortage, and load shedding, which have adversely affected the economic growth potential of the state, it is important for Pakistan to extend its nuclear energy programme.
Pakistan’s civil nuclear programme is viewed as an engine to achieve sustainable development goals. In a nutshell, expansion of the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy is a key tenet of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Thus, the state is moving forward to expand the role of nuclear power, including the development of new power plants to address its lingering energy crisis.
Pakistan possesses a small nuclear power program with an operating capacity of 1,355 MWe and projects of 2300 MWe are under construction. Nuclear energy in Pakistan is generated by two nuclear power complexes: Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (CHASNUPP) and Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP). CHASNUPP is comprised of four operational units, Chashma-I, Chashma -II, Chashma -III, and Chashma –IV. Chashma Units contribute approximately 1230MWe clean energy to the national grid. Moreover, to tackle the growing energy crisis and consequent economic woes, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) further agreed to build Unit 5 of CHASNUPP, i.e. C-5 with HPR 1000 technology in November 2017- anticipated to add 20% of electricity to the national electric grid by 2030.
Additionally, to enhance the capacity to mitigate the growing supply and demand gap of energy, Pakistan is constructing two more nuclear power plants at Karachi—Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-2 (K-2) and Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-3 (K-3) with an installed net capacity of 2200 MWe. The fuel loading of K-2 is undergoing and estimated to be operational by March 2021. K-3 is expected to be operational in 2022 to contribute approximately 1100 MWe of clean energy to the national grid. Pakistan’s first nuclear power plant, Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-1 (K-1) was constructed with the financial assistance of the Canadian government in 1971. Presently K-1 is under evaluation by the PAEC due to the age factor.
Pakistan has established an effective mechanism in accordance with the international standards and guidelines to strengthen the safety and security of its nuclear programme. Pakistan is an active player in the global nuclear order to promote non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. Pakistan is engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security. In this regard, Pakistan is a state party to the IAEA code of conduct on safety and security of radioactive sources, it has taken the practical initiative to carry out the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540), Pakistan has been an important and constructive participant in the two Nuclear Security Summits conferences and ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM). Consequently, at the national level, Pakistan has established a robust mechanism to ensure nuclear safety and security by developing a rigorous export control regime. Therefore, Pakistan’s measures at a national level and participation in international arrangements are a demonstration of Pakistan’s commitment to the objective of nuclear safety and security.
To conclude, nuclear energy is a clean and environment-friendly source to reduce Pakistan’s energy deficit. Nuclear energy is essential to alleviate the supply and demand gap and address the prevailing energy crisis. To realize the sustainable industrial, economic, and environmental benefits of nuclear power; Pakistan seeks international cooperation in the civilian nuclear industry under the guidelines of multilateral export control and safety regulations. Therefore, expansion of the nuclear energy sector and international arrangements (Nuclear Suppliers Group) would facilitate the peaceful use of nuclear technology to overcome this crippling energy crisis.