Nuclear power is the future for Pakistan

Germany's experience with nuclear energy serves as a valuable lesson, prompting Pakistan to intensify its pursuit of nuclear energy as a practical avenue for its energy needs

Usman Ali Khan Dec 12, 2023
Representational Photo (Photo: Twitter)

Is nuclear power destined to be a cornerstone of our future energy landscape? This question looms large in discussions about sustainable energy sources. The single answer is ‘yes’. Nuclear power presents a promising option due to its low greenhouse gas emissions and potential to generate large amounts of electricity consistently. 

Mostly, people have misperceptions regarding nuclear energy. However, nuclear energy leads the path to a sustainable and energy-abundant future. In an era where concerns about climate change and the need for clean, reliable power are paramount, nuclear energy emerges as a compelling solution in the energy mix.

Nuclear energy beneficiaries 

Germany is a perfect example to understand that opposing nuclear energy doesn’t fit well in attaining a sustainable future. In September 2021, Germany implemented a policy to phase out nuclear energy and increase the share of renewable energy sources in its energy production. Turning the lights off towards nuclear energy is also becoming a big setback for climate goals that Germany had sworn to achieve. The country has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, but it missed its climate targets for both 2021 and 2022. To reach its 2030 targets, it may need to triple the pace of its emissions cuts

Germany still burns a lot of coal compared to many other industrialized nations, and a lot of it is lignite coal which is especially pollution intensive. Recently, some shuttered coal plants were restarted this winter because of the energy crisis. So, phasing out nuclear energy is making them increasingly dependent on coal rather than wind and solar energy thereby, adding more woes to their climate goals.

Many countries around the world benefit from nuclear energy by using it as a significant source of electricity generation. France is a leader in nuclear energy and around 70 per cent of its energy is coming from nuclear power plants (NPP). 

Similarly, the US is one of the top producers of nuclear energy and the NPPs contributes around 20 per cent of the country's electricity. Russia has a significant nuclear energy industry and exports nuclear technology to other countries. South Korea has a well-established nuclear energy program and uses nuclear power to generate 30 per cent of the country’s electricity from nuclear energy program and the list goes on.

Pakistan’s energy challenges 

In South Asia, Pakistan, is faced with energy challenges including a growing population, inadequate power supply, and reliance on fossil fuel imports. An apparently important question is whether renewable energy holds a promising future for the energy sector of Pakistan? Again, the answer is ‘yes’.

Pakistan has been struggling to increase nuclear electricity capacity since 1970s. Pakistan is mired up with climate induced calamities Nuclear power has a consistent and predictable output. It is not affected by weather conditions compared to other sources such as wind and solar power. Global energy is increasingly based around electricity. Pakistan is aware of the benefits that come from utilizing nuclear technology for power generation and has demonstrated a commitment to gradually diversify its energy production from fossil to nuclear sources.

Pakistan has a remarkable record of utilizing nuclear technology for peaceful uses. In the continuing effort to overcome the growing energy crisis, there is a need to recognize the efforts and commitments that Pakistan has put in place for its peaceful nuclear programme. Pakistan has a clear goal of increasing its future use of nuclear energy and is currently expanding its infrastructure to fulfil those pursuits. To successfully meet its stated goals, the government of Pakistan intends to invest more in its research and development programs under its Nuclear Energy Vision-2050.

Moreover, in Nov 2021, IAEA Chief acknowledged Pakistan’s accomplishments in the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies for coping with the adverse impacts of the global warming-caused climate breakdown. The Nuclear Energy Vision 2050 of Pakistan outlines an ambitious goal of achieving a nuclear power generation capacity of 40,000 Mega Watts (MWe). Backed by a track record of 62 reactor-years marked by operational success, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) expresses a high level of assurance in its capability to realize a substantial portion of this vision. 

Way to go for Pakistan 

By the year 2030, PAEC aims to harness nuclear methods to generate an impressive 8,000 MW of electricity. Giving precedence to nuclear energy – which already makes a substantial contribution to the national grid by supplying economical and environmentally friendly power – can be a strategic choice for conserving dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

Germany's experience with nuclear energy serves as a valuable lesson, prompting Pakistan to intensify its pursuit of nuclear energy as a practical avenue for its energy needs. Expanding nuclear energy capacity and utilization offers compelling benefits for Pakistan. Notably, it holds the promise of substantial foreign exchange reserve savings and a reduction in electricity shortages. 

By decreasing reliance on imported fuels, Pakistan can enhance its balance of payments, strengthening its overall economic stability. Investing strategically in domestically produced nuclear power has the potential to cut import expenditures, safeguard foreign exchange reserves, and facilitate long-term economic progress. Therefore, granting Pakistan access to nuclear technology without any discrimination can foster sustainable economic development and energy security.

(The author is M.Phil Scholar from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad. Views are personal. He can be reached at

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