Work on £1.12bn 700MW hydropower plant starts in Kashmir
The government of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has signed agreements with a Chinese company and a local renewable energy firm for the construction of a 700MW hydropower project at an estimated cost of £1.12 billion.
Developed as part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the project is located on the Jhelum river in the Sadhanoti district of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The main shareholders of the Azad Pattan Hydropower Project are China Gezhouba Group and its local partner Laraib Group Pakistan.
The consortium of lenders consists of China Development Bank, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan says that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be a ‘game changer’ for the country, bringing in ‘unprecedented prosperity and progress to Pakistan’.
“It (CPEC) is a project that will take Pakistan to new heights [of prosperity],” the prime minister says, speaking after the signing of the agreement with China Gezhouba for Azad Pattan Hydropower Project.
“Pakistan can learn with the progress made by emerging economic power, China, during the last 30 years,” Khan adds, while pointing out that he was glad that the hydropower project was being commissioned under the CPEC.
“Earlier, the CPEC was confined to road connectivity, but now other aspects of the corridor are being unfolded.”
The implementation agreement and water usage charges agreement for the construction of the project were signed by PoK Electricity Secretary Zafar Mahmood Khan and Azad Pattan Power Private Limited CEO Li Xiaota.
The 700MW project will not involve fuel import, enabling Pakistan to move towards cheaper and greener power while creating job opportunities, local media report say. Work on the project is expected to be completed in 2026.
“Time would prove the long-term benefits of CPEC, which is based on the economic cooperation between Pakistan and China,” the prime minister says, adding that it was part of the investment to complete the power project based on clean energy.
“Unlike the past, the project will not burden the people. The previous governments launched costly projects, which were made functional with imported fuel, thus increasing the cost of energy manifolds and stressing the local currency,” he explains.
The Project is being developed under the Government of Pakistan Policy for Power Generation 2002 (as adopted by AJ&K) on Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis, whereby it would be transferred to the Government of AJ&K free of cost at the end of a 30-year concession term, a statement on the company website says.
It adds that Azad Pattan HPP is one of several cascade projects planned by the Government of Pakistan on River Jhelum comprising (from upstream to downstream) Chakoti Hattian, Kohala, Mahal, Azad Pattan and Karot. Once commissioned, the Project shall be generating more than 3.265 billion units of clean energy per year. Energy generation from the project is expected to commence by the year 2024.
China starts building underground lab for high level waste
China has begun constructing its first underground research laboratory in the Gobi Desert - following more than 35 years of research - to determine its suitability for storing future high level radioactive waste.
As part of the support from the International Atomic Energy Agency, 35 Chinese and 11 international experts took part in a six-week virtual expert mission earlier this year to provide input, guidance and recommendations to support plans for the in-situ laboratory.
“The safe disposal of high level radioactive waste is one of the critical missions for the sustainable development of China’s nuclear industry,” said Liang Chen, Vice President of the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG), which is constructing the underground research laboratory.
China has been working on identifying a suitable site for a HLW repository since 1985, and since 1999 those efforts have been supported by the IAEA.
The country’s strategy for HLW disposal consists of three stages, with stage one – laboratory studies and preliminary site selection – completed in 2020. The second stage, underground in-situ testing, is set to take place from 2021 to 2050, following the construction of the underground research laboratory. The final stage – the construction of the disposal facility – is planned to take place from 2041 to 2050, assuming the in-situ testing confirms the area’s suitability.
High-level radioactive waste can remain radioactive from thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. The internationally accepted solution for its safe and secure long term management is geological disposal in a facility several hundred metres underground. A geological disposal facility is under construction in Finland. (Watch the video Onkalo – A Solution for Nuclear Waste for more details).
“The construction of an underground research laboratory is an opportunity for advancement in the science and engineering of geological disposal facilities and an essential component in a sustainable energy future for countries,” said Stefan Joerg Mayer, Head of the Disposal Team at the IAEA. “Despite the constraints of the pandemic, we were able to design, organize and lead an innovative virtual mission to provide expert assistance to China in the construction of this new R&D facility.”
BRUIG requested the IAEA to provide support on characterisation of the rock mass, as well as scientific research, prior to construction.
The broad range of areas covered resulted in recommendations related to construction, but also guidance related to the implementation of its laboratory R&D plans during the construction phase.
“This virtual Expert Mission was very timely as construction of the underground laboratory began this summer and it provided critical support to this effort,” said Chen. “It has made a great contribution in promoting the sustainable development of China's nuclear industry.”
Nuclear power, as well as hydro power and other renewable energy sources, could collectively replace coal as China’s primary sources of power.
China could have an installed nuclear capacity of 182 gigawatts by 2030, an increase of 74 gigawatts over the policy scenario’s goal, according to McKinsey.
China manufactures 70 percent of the equipment necessary for nuclear plants, and the cost for this equipment has been falling. If the country develops nuclear power to the fullest extent, by 2030 carbon emissions could fall by 470 million tons, at a cost of €3 per ton.