Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has inaugurated the third unit of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), which has 1.1GW of power generating capacity.

Built with an investment of $2.7bn, the K-3 nuclear unit is expected to ease Pakistan’s ongoing energy crisis, according to Bloomberg.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that the unit will supply electricity to the country’s national grid.

It is the second Chinese-designed Hualong One reactor to be deployed at KANUPP, having been built with the Chinese Government’s assistance under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative.

At the inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan ‘badly needs’ clean and cheap sources of energy, be they nuclear, hydropower or other renewables.

He noted that the country has the capacity to produce 60GW of power from hydroelectric assets, but these only account for 10GW of its current energy mix.

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Although the new unit may help Pakistan deal with the energy crisis to some extent, many believe it is unlikely to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports or solve its chronic energy shortages.

Pakistan is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund to increase its energy tariffs in return for bailout funds.

Last month, the country’s foreign-exchange reserves fell to their lowest in nine years after high fossil fuel costs put pressure on the government’s budget. 

In 1986, China and Pakistan started their nuclear energy cooperation with the signing of the ‘Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’.

The two nations then signed a contract in 1991 to build and install a 325MW pressurised water reactor (PWR) at Chashma in Punjab, Pakistan.

In 2013, Pakistan and China signed a separate contract for the development of two nuclear units in Karachi, each with 1.1GW of capacity.

Construction works on the K-2 and K-3 nuclear reactors began in 2015 and 2016 respectively.