In a significant stride towards fortifying its national electrical grid, Bangladesh received its first uranium consignment from Russia last Thursday. The fuel will power the nation’s solitary nuclear power plant, currently mid-construction under Moscow’s supervision. The completion of this plant promises to significantly support the burgeoning economy of this South Asian country.
The Rooppur power plant, once fully operational, will be capable of generating an impressive 2,400 megawatts of electricity. This production will be sufficient to cater to nearly 15 million households. The power plant construction project is the handiwork of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation. This monumental endeavor, boasting a construction budget of $11.38 billion, has been funded entirely by Moscow, under an agreement to be repaid over two decades beginning 2027.
The commencement of production at Rooppur will usher Bangladesh into an elite group of more than 30 countries that operate nuclear power reactors.
Last month saw the uranium shipment reaching Bangladeshi shores, with a handover ceremony staged at the construction site. Located in Ishwardi in the northern district of Pabna, the ceremony was attended via video link by notable figures of both nations, including Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In his address, Putin remarked that the plant will account for an estimated 10% of Bangladesh’s energy consumption upon launch. The construction process was no small feat, requiring the labour and expertise of over 20,000 individuals and necessitating the training of over a thousand people for its operation. “Together with you, we are building not just a nuclear power plant, but the entire atomic industry,” he asserted.
Prime Minister Hasina reinforced her nation’s confidence in the project, attesting to the structural safety of the plant against natural disasters. She also mentioned that Russia has undertaken to retrieve the spent fuel from Rooppur after its consumption.
Thursday’s event marked the formal handover of the uranium fuel from Aleksey Likhachev, Rosatom chief, to Bangladesh’s Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman. Newswire agency, United News of Bangladesh, however, did not disclose details about the shipment quantity.
Minister Osman envisages the first Rooppur unit becoming operational in July 2024 and the subsequent unit by July 2025. The provided fuel is designed to power the reactor for a full year before requiring a reload.
The uranium, sourced from the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant—a subsidiary of Rosatom’s fuel manufacturing company TVEL—in Russia.
Russia and Bangladesh continue to uphold their historically strong relations, undeterred by the recent international backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The countries are bound by several agreements encompassing nuclear power industry co-operation, trade, finances plus other sectors.
In terms of future energy planning, Bangladesh is actively curbing its reliance on natural gas, which presently constitutes about half of the country’s power production. Simultaneously, it is pursuing the construction of coal-powered plants while envisaging a long-term goal of deriving 40% of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power by 2041.