Government increases atomic energy commission budget to Rs39.2 billion

Wednesday, May 30, 2012: The Government of Pakistan has decided to increase the budget of atomic energy commission by 78% to Rs39.2 billion in the upcoming financial year, starting from July 2012, in a bid to up the ante on nuclear
power plants for cheaper electricity.

The allocation for Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is almost 11% of the total federal development budget estimated at Rs360 billion for the financial year 2012-13.

A major chunk of the PAEC budget has been allocated to two nuclear power plants, according to the budget documents. An amount of Rs34.6 billion has been set aside for Chashma Nuclear Power Plants, C3 and C4. The total cost of these
two projects is Rs190 billion which will be partially funded by Rs136 billion Chinese loan.

The government has so far spent Rs62.4 billion on the mega project having 660 megawatts generation capacity. With Rs34.6 billion additional spending, the government will be able to complete almost half of the work by June 2013.

To meet the growing energy deficit, the PAEC has been assigned an ambitious target of 8,800 megawatts nuclear power generation by 2030. Pakistan is keen to seek assistance from China and France to meet the goal, according to a
senior government official. Due to inconsistency of policies, the country’s energy mix has drastically changed with hydel generation declining to a third and thermal generation increasing to two-thirds, resulting to expensive power generation.

Both nuclear power plants C3 and C4 had been planned in accordance with the safeguard agreements with IAEA.

Currently, PAEC is carrying out 28 projects and studies having an estimated cost of Rs237 billion. According to the documents, an amount of Rs35.5 million has also been sanctioned to carry out survey and feasibility studies of
six additional nuclear power plants sites. The total cost of the feasibility studies is Rs150 million.