Bangladesh to Join Nuclear Club with Russian Help

by Victor Adetimilehin

World News

Bangladesh is set to become the 33rd country in the world to produce nuclear power, with the help of Russia. The South Asian nation has received the first shipment of uranium fuel from Moscow for its Rooppur nuclear power plant, which is expected to start operations in 2023.

The Rooppur project, worth $12.65 billion, is the result of a bilateral agreement signed in 2011 between Bangladesh and Russia. The plant will have two reactors, each with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, and will provide about 15% of the country’s electricity needs. The plant is being built by Rosatom, the Russian state-owned atomic company, which is also financing 90% of the project through a loan. Rosatom has been expanding its global presence in recent years, offering nuclear technology and services to countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a virtual ceremony on Wednesday to mark the delivery of the fuel, which was manufactured in Russia and transported under the supervision of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Today is a day of pride and joy for the people of Bangladesh,” Hasina said, adding that nuclear power would help achieve the national sustainable development goals and transform Bangladesh into a developed nation by 2041.

Putin thanked the IAEA for its guidance and support for the project, which he said was “a vivid example of successful cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy”. The IAEA has been assisting Bangladesh in developing its nuclear infrastructure, including legal and regulatory frameworks, human resources, safety and security, and public communication. The agency has also conducted several peer review missions and provided training and equipment. “Bangladesh stands as a success story for newcomer countries in nuclear power development, advancing its programme under the IAEA’s guidance,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Twitter.

Bangladesh is among 28 countries that are considering, planning or starting the introduction of nuclear power, according to the IAEA. The country faces a growing demand for electricity, which is currently met mainly by natural gas. Nuclear power is seen as a reliable and low-carbon option to diversify and decarbonize the energy mix. The construction of the Rooppur plant began in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2024. The plant will use the VVER-1200/523 reactor model, which is based on the latest Russian technology and meets international safety standards.

The plant will also have four natural draft cooling towers and use water from the Padma river as a cooling source. The plant will be operated by the Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Limited, a state-owned entity. The Rooppur project is not only about energy, but also about science and technology. Bangladesh hopes that the plant will boost its scientific and technological capacity and create opportunities for education and research.

Source: Energy News Africa

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