CHASHMA -  Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi here on Friday inaugurated Pakistan's fifth nuclear power plant C-4 with a capacity of generating 340MW of electricity.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is pursuing its vision of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and achieved another milestone with the operation of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit-4 (C-4). The plant would be operational on trial basis and would pass through various functional and safety related tests at full power.

With tremendous efforts of PAEC and Chinese friends, the fourth nuclear power plant C-4 would become operational and connected to the country's power grid.

The Chashma nuclear power projects units, C-1, C-2 and C-3 have been successfully contributing to the national grid with an excellent performance since 2000, 2011 and 2016 respectively. The three nuclear power plants of Chinese origin are the best performing power stations in the country, supplying over 950MW to the national grid with availability factors of around 99 percent.

Currently, country's four nuclear power plants KANUPP, C-1, C-2 and C-3 are operational and generating a total of 1,030 MW of power whereas with the inauguration of C-4 Chashma plant, the power supply would be further enhanced. Two large sized nuclear power plants, K-2 and K-3 are under construction near Karachi and are scheduled to be operational in 2020 and 2021 respectively, adding, another 2,200 MW to the national grid.

AFP adds: The country's fifth nuclear power plant was developed in collaboration with China amid hopes that the government could end chronic power shortages this year.

Pakistan is one of the few developing countries pursuing atomic energy as it seeks to close an electricity shortfall that can stretch up to 7,000MW in peak summer months, or around 32 percent of total demand.

The previous power plant was inaugurated in December by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified on corruption charges last month. "Ending of loadshedding is the highest priority of our government and the power projects of 10,000 megawatts would be completed by next June," Abbasi told a ceremony broadcast live.

"We will be able to end loadshedding by November 2017," he said, adding that the nuclear power plants were efficient and safe and under international safeguards.

Abbasi said that the economic growth rate had surpassed the five percent mark and it will reach up to six percent this year because many new power projects had begun producing electricity and several were nearing completion.

Pakistan has been struggling to provide enough power to its nearly 200 million citizens for years, and Sharif had vowed to solve the crisis by 2018.

The energy sector has traditionally struggled to cover the cost of producing electricity, leading the government to divert $2 billion annually as a subsidy, according to a recent report commissioned by the British government.

China meanwhile is ramping up investment in its South Asian neighbour as part of a $46 billion project that will link its far-western Xinjiang region to Pakistan's Gwadar port with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.