Nuclear Power in Bangladesh
Updated January 2013
- 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 38 billion kWh gross in 2009 from some 6.1 GWe of plant, giving per capita consumption of 250 kWh/yr. About 88% of electricity comes from natural gas. Electricity demand is rising rapidly, with peak demand 7.5 GWe, and the government aims 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 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 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 was 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. 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. In line with standard Russian practice this included fuel supply and return of used fuel to Russia. Another intergovernmental agreement was signed in November 2011 for the project to be built by Atomstroyexport.
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. Site works will start in January 2014,
and construction of the first unit is expected from 2015, with operation soon
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 fund 85% of the estimated $1.5 billion for the first unit’s construction. This is to be 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.
The country has had a Triga 3 MW research reactor operational since 1986.
International agreements and Non-proliferation
Bangladesh has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 1982, and an Additional Protocol in force since 2001.