Pakistan launches $2.7 billion China-designed nuclear plant

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Pakistan inaugurated a $2.7 billion nuclear reactor, providing some relief as the nation grapples with an energy crisis.

The 1,100 megawatts capacity power plant will generate some of the nation’s cheapest electricity, according to data from regulator National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. The facility was connected to the grid last March.

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It’s the second unit at the Karachi nuclear power plant to use a Chinese-designed Hualong One reactor. China financed the facility’s expansion.

Pakistan “badly needs clean and cheap sources of energy, whether it is nuclear, hydro or other renewables,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said at a ceremony at the power plant in Karachi.

While the new facility is a welcome addition to Pakistan’s stretched grid, it won’t do much to curb dependence on expensive fossil fuel imports or solve the nation’s chronic energy shortages.

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

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

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