Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday set the wheels in motion for the country’s largest civil nuclear power project with Chinese help.

The 2200 MW nuclear power project in Karachi is a first step towards a load-shedding-free Pakistan, Mr. Sharif said at a ground breaking ceremony, according to an official statement.

He said to achieve the goal of energy security, nuclear power would form an increasingly significant component. The Karachi Coastal Power Project (K-2 and K-3) should be seen as an important step forward in that direction, he added. He said six additional sites had been identified to set up such projects.

The 2200-MW plant will take 72 months to complete, he said. The Nuclear Energy Vision 2050 envisages nuclear power generation of about 40,000 MW by 2050 for a strong and dynamic Pakistan, he pointed out.

He recalled that the first nuclear power plant, of Chinese origin, was built at Chashma and the contract was signed during his first term as Prime Minister. He said he wished to see Karachi realise its true potential. Outlining other power projects, he said the government was going to construct both Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu dams simultaneously. Along with Bunji dam, a capacity of 15,000 MW will be added. The country was also exploring further avenues to utilise its hydel capacity.

The Gaddani power park in Baluchistan will have 10 coal-based power projects, each producing 660 MW. While the government of Pakistan will finance the first project, Chinese corporations have also shown interest in setting up coal-based power plants in Gaddani. Medium-term initiatives of the government to overcome the power shortage also include Wind Energy generation of 2500 MW, CASA project of 1000 MW by 2017, Terbela-V extension project by 2017.

Import of LNG will also start next year which will drastically reduce gas load-shedding, he added.