Nuclear Power in Bangladesh
Updated June 2014
- Bangladesh plans to have two 1000 MWe Russian nuclear power reactors in operation from 2020.
- This is to meet rapidly-increasing demand and reduce dependence on natural gas.
Bangladesh produced 44 billion kWh gross in 2011, giving per capita consumption of 280 kWh/yr. Overe 40 billion kWh in 2011 was from natural gas. Electricity demand is rising rapidly, with peak demand 7.5 GWe, and the government aimed to increase capacity to at least 7 GWe by 2014, meanwhile importing some 250 MWe from India. New small coal-fired plants are envisaged for 2 GWe of that, and for 3 GWe more by 2016. However, about half the population remains without electricity, and the other half experience frequent power cuts. Some 5.0% of government expenditure is being allocated to ‘power and energy’. The capacity target for 2021 is 20 GWe.
Nuclear power plans
Building a nuclear power plant in the west of the country was proposed in 1961. Since then a number of reports have affirmed the technical and economic feasibility. The Rooppur site in Pabna district about 200 km north of Dhaka was selected in 1963 and land was acquired. The government gave formal approval for a succession of plant proposals, then after independence a 125 MWe nuclear power plant proposal was approved in 1980 but not built.
With growth in demand and grid capacity since then, a much larger plant looked feasible, and the government in 1999 expressed its firm commitment to build this Rooppur plant. In 2001 it adopted a national Nuclear Power Action Plan and in 2005 it signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China.
In 2007 the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) proposed two 500 MWe nuclear reactors for Rooppur by 2015, quoting likely costs of US$ 0.9-1.2 billion for a 600 MWe unit and US$ 1.5-2.0 billion for 1000 MWe. In April 2008 the government reiterated its intention to work with China in building the Rooppur plant and China offered funding for the project. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved a Technical Assistance Project for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to be initiated between 2009 and 2011, and it then appeared that an 1100 MWe plant was envisaged.
Russia, China and South Korea had earlier offered financial and technical help to establish nuclear power, and in March 2009 Russia made a formal proposal to build a nuclear power plant in the country. In May 2009 a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with Russia. In April 2009 the government approved the Russian proposal to build a 1000 MWe AES-92 nuclear plant at Rooppur for about $2 billion, and a year later this had become two such reactors by 2017. A nuclear energy bill was introduced into parliament in May 2012, with work to begin in 2013, and setting up a Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority. Parliament was told that 5000 MWe of nuclear capacity was envisaged by 2030, and a second plant would be built in the south once Rooppur is operating.
In May 2010 an intergovernmental agreement was signed with Russia, providing a legal basis for nuclear cooperation in areas such as siting, design, construction and operation of power and research nuclear reactors, water desalination plants, and elementary particle accelerators. Other areas covered included fuel supply and wastes – Russia will manage wastes and decommissioning. An agreement with Rosatom was signed in February 2011 for two 1000 MWe-class reactors to be built at Rooppur for the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC). Another intergovernmental agreement was signed in November 2011 for the project to be built by AtomStroyExport (which in mid-2012 was merged with Nizhny Novgorod Atomenergoproekt, NIAEP).
Planned nuclear power reactors
In February 2012 the Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement with Russia's Rostechnadzor related to regulation and safety "and the provision of advisory support to the Bangladesh Nuclear Regulatory Commission on regulation, licensing and supervision". Staff will be trained in Russia.
An intergovernmental agreement for provision of a $500 million Russian loan to finance engineering surveys on the site, project development and personnel training was signed in January 2013. A future loan of about $1.5 billion is expected for the nuclear build proper. In August 2012 a financing agreement was negotiated under which Bangladesh would borrow $500 million for a 2-year technical and economic study together with design, documentation and training, at not less than 4,5% interest rates, which subsequently because 3%. Russia will then provide a second loan of over $1.5 billion for 90% of the first unit’s construction. The agreement was signed in January 2013. The $500 million loan will be repaid in 12 years with five years grace period, and the final construction cost will be repaid in 28 years with 10 years grace period. The IAEA continues its close involvement with the project.
In June 2013, NIAEP-AtomStroyExport signed a contract with BAEC to prepare documentation related to construction and environmental impact assessment for the plant, as well as providing for necessary engineering studies. NIAEP-ASE said that this represented a transition to long-term cooperation. This was followed by a $265 million agreement in October (both part of the $500 million loan facility) for site preparation and detailed design documentation. Another agreement for major site works to prepare for first concrete is expected in 2014.
Site works started in October 2013, and construction of the first unit is expected from 2015, with operation soon after 2020.
In June 2014 the government and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) invited the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) to explore the possibility of building a second 2000 MWe nuclear power plant in the south of the country.
All fuel for Rooppur is being provided by Rosatom, and all used fuel is to be repatriated to Russia, in line with standard Russian practice for such countries.
The country has had a Triga 3 MW research reactor operational since 1986.
International agreements and Non-proliferation
Bangladesh is a party to the NPT and has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 1982, and an Additional Protocol in force since 2001.