C-5 delay by PTI govt caused ‘Rs1.2tr opportunity loss’

Khalid Mustafa
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has suffered an opportunity loss amounting to almost Rs1.2 trillion as then PTI government did not allow China National Nuclear Corporation to start work on Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (ChNuPP-5) also known as C-5.

A senior power division officer told The News that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) had signed an agreement in 2017 for initiating a project of 1,100MW with a levelised tariff of seven cents for 60 years, extendable to 80 years.

Under the agreement, he said, Pakistan was to have 15 percent equity in the project which was not provided to the Chinese side. The project cost was $4 billion, out of which, China was to provide $3.40 billion and Pakistan $600 million.

He said if the construction of the project had been started on time, it would have been ready for commissioning in 2024 to generate 1,100MW of electricity at cheaper rates. “If kept in view the report of Justice Rehmat Hussain Jafri on the Nandipur project which says that due to two years delay, the country sustained an opportunity loss of Rs113 billion, the opportunity loss of C-5 stands at about Rs1.2 trillion.”

“So much so the target of achieving the target of nuclear electricity generation of 8,800MW by 2030 is now not possible and it should be revised downward. The plan to generate nuclear electricity with a target of 8,800MW was made in 2005.”

However, the PTI government didn’t give a nod for starting construction of the project, and even didn’t make the project part of the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP-2021-30).

Recently top functionaries of China National Nuclear Corporation had a meeting with Federal Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan in this regard. When contacted, then energy minister Hammad Azhar in the PTI government didn’t respond.

However, the energy ministry official said that the PTI government had not included this very important project in the IGCEP mainly because of a so-called argument that Pakistan had excess electricity capacity and upfront cost of the project was very high.

He said that the country’s de-rated capacity stood at over 24,000MW which was not enough to cater to electricity needs and the PTI government should have started constructing C-5 for which Pakistan had only 15 percent equity. Pakistan has so far managed to generate nuclear electricity of 3,530MW and it may not be able to attain the target of 8,800MW in 2030.