First Concrete Poured for Rooppur

Bangladesh has made another step towards its first nuclear power plant. A new milestone passed in late November as the first concrete was poured for the basement of Unit 1 on the plant’s site. This marks the beginning of a construction process that will result in the country’s first power generation facility with a service life of no less than a century. More details from the site can be found in our report.

The first concrete pouring ceremony took place less than a month after the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) obtained a construction license for the country’s first nuclear power plant. The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and Alexei Likhachev, CEO of Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom. “Construction of a nuclear power plant is a long-nurtured dream for Bengali people, and today we have made another step towards our dream coming true. Bangladesh becomes a part of the nuclear world. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will be built with the latest technology, and we are thankful to Russia and Russian people for it,” Sheikh Hasina said.

“Today we are beginning to build a facility that will have a service life of at least 100 years. This means that we are laying a foundation for friendship and cooperation for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. Exactly the same power plant with an innovative VVER-1200 unit operates in Russia. We will build this plant in Bangladesh with the same care and attention as we did in Russia,” Rosatom’s CEO Alexei Likhachev said.

Yafes Osman, Minister of Bangladesh for Science and Technology, believes that the first Bangladeshi nuclear power plant will supply the country with electric power for a century. “Initial investment in the project might seem to be too high, but in the long term it is not. The nuclear power plant will satisfy internal demand for power and improve the country’s reputation since Bangladesh will be the 32nd nation to use nuclear power.” With construction of a nuclear plant, Bangladesh enters the elite club of nuclear countries, he said.

Our readers should remember that site preparations, development of engineering design documents and submissions for the construction license were done in 2015–2016. In 2017, the Rooppur NPP project continued in accordance with the time schedule, which provides for Unit 1 to be commissioned in 2023 followed by Unit 2 in 2024.

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will have the latest VVER-1200 reactors of the Generation 3+ design. The world’s first reactor of this class was brought online earlier this year at Novovoronezh II in Russia. It is an evolution of Generation III reactors and is fully compliant with international safety standards. In 2017, the new unit of Novovoronezh II was named the world’s Top 3 nuclear reactor unit by the POWER Magazine (USA).

The Rooppur project is based on the defense-in-depth concept, which is fundamental for the plant’s overall safety. This concept provides for multiple defense levels and mitigation of accidents and human error, thus securing environmental safety.

COMMENTS

Shafiqul Islam, Chairman, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Dhaka University

“Nuclear science gives us knowledge that we need in every aspect of our life, including politics, economics, defense and social areas. Nuclear science is good for the country and is very important for the country’s future. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will enable the country to use nuclear science. Ambitious students need to study this science for the sake of the country. The nuclear power plant to be constructed in Bangladesh will make a large contribution to the country’s economy. Power is a must for the economic development of the nation. Industries will flourish if they are provided with sufficient power. Electricity will play an important role in the country’s transformation into a middle-income economy.”

Ishtiaque Maoyeen Syed, General Secretary, Bangladesh Physics Society, Professor, Dhaka University

“The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant alone will meet the country’s large demand for power. The country won’t prosper without sufficient sources of energy and power, and the process of industrialization will stagnate. The garments industry is already moving from our country and, considering all these facts, it is a must to meet the energy and power demand. We are moving towards the use of uranium, which is a well-timed decision. Energy that a kilogram of uranium yields is equivalent to power generated by 55 kilograms of coal. Going nuclear is great since nuclear power will not pollute the environment and is cheaper in the long run. Also, Bangladesh has very limited options how it can meet the country’s demand for energy and power. Gas reserves are depleting, while liquefied natural gas, which is soon to be imported, is costly. Prospect of wind and solar generation in Bangladesh are very poor. Solar power is not that feasible in our country for certain reasons. We can use solar power differently in our country. We may go for solar cell coated glass panels that are suitable for windows. And whatever might be said, solar power is not that much sustainable. Considering all these facts, nuclear power seems to be the best option for Bangladesh. Besides, nuclear power plants do not emit as much carbon as gas or coal fired plants, and this is another advantage of nuclear generation.”

Rashid Sarkar, Director, Engineering and Technology, Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering, Dhaka University

“The process of industrialization in Bangladesh is being disrupted by the shortage of power. Industrialization cannot reach the intended level. Even in Chittagong, businessmen are craving for power with idle money in hands but cannot get what their need to start their business. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will play a key role in the development of the country’s economy as soon as it is commissioned. Nuclear will provide us with low-cost electric power for at least 80 years and make the country more recognizable on the world map. The nuclear power plant will also improve our technical capabilities and make us more self-dependent. The nation’s self-esteem will be raised to an entirely new level with this nuclear power project. The nuclear plant is a long-awaited project. Russia invests in the project at a low interest rate, which is an advantage for us. Local engineers will have a chance of operating the plant, and training courses are being organized to make them competent for that job. This power plant will also widen the window of opportunity to learn, practice and study the nuclear science for Bangladeshi students, engineers and experts.”