Rooppur raised again

29 August 2007

Bangladesh could look seriously to nuclear power for its development. The country's Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) is set to present proposals to government for two small reactors.

Rooppur in Pabna would be the site for the potential development, which BAEC reportedly consider suitable for two 500 MWe nuclear power reactors.

According to an Energy Bangla report, BAEC chairman Shafiqul Islam Bhuiyan said that 110 ha of land on the Pabma river was bought in the 1960s with the intention of building a nuclear power plant there. However, he said, no meaningful action had been taken since.

Bhuiyan went on to say that BAEC estimate the cost of 600 MWe of nuclear capacity would be in the range $900 million to $1.2 billion, and that a 1000 MWe would cost between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion.

Bhuiyan's remarks were made at a meeting chaired by Tapan Chowdury, an advisor to the Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology. BAEC's proposals for completing the long-stalled Rooppur project are to be presented to other senior government advisors in the hope that the government would approve funds for the project.

BAEC's chances would appear to be good: A firm commitment to nuclear build was expressed by government in 1999; in 2001 a nuclear action plan was produced; and in 2005 a nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with China.

Bangladesh's economy has enjoyed a recent growth rate of 5-6% per year. However, its electricity sector is struggling to meet demand and to connect outlying areas of the country. Some 48 million Bangladeshis currnently have no access to electricity. At present generating capacity is around 5 GWe, almost all of which comes from small natural gas-fired power plants.

Further information

WNA's Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries information paper