PM Hasina inaugurates installation of second reactor of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant has two units — each can generate 1,200MW of power

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday inaugurated the installation of the second and final reactor of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

The reactor pressure vessel was installed at the second unit of the 2,400MW power plant.

Sheikh Hasina joined the program virtually from her official residence, Ganabhaban, while it was held in Ishwardi of the northern district of Pabna.

The country’s lone nuclear power plant, constructed at Rooppur in Ishwardi at a total cost of $12.65 billion, has two units with a power generation capacity of 1,200MW each.

In October last year, the prime minister inaugurated the reactor pressure vessel of the plant's first unit.

According to the Rosatom, the Russian contractor of the project, the VVER-1200 reactor vessel passed the input control in accordance with all regulatory requirements before its installation on Wednesday.

Rosatom officials said the operation to install the VVER-1200 reactor vessel of the second power unit in the design position was carried out in several stages.

A Liebherr-11350 heavy crawler crane lifted the reactor vessel onto the transport portal of the power unit.

Then, on a special transport trolley, it was moved to the central hall of the reactor compartment. Further, with the help of a polar crane, the reactor vessel was turned into a vertical position and installed on a support ring in the reactor shaft.

According to the RNPP officials, the first unit of the project has already made 70% progress in physical work, and with the installation of the reactor pressure vessel at the second unit the project will have overall 53% of physical work completed.

“With the installation of the reactor pressure vessel, the project’s second unit’s physical work will achieve over 45% of the target,” Dr Md Shawkat Akbar, the project director in the country’s biggest scheme in power generation, told UNB on Tuesday.

The government undertook the project in 2009 and after a long discussion signed an $11.385 billion credit agreement with Russian Federation on July 26 in 2016 to implement the project through appointing the Russian state nuclear energy firm—Rosatom—as its contractor.

In addition, on August 6, 2019, Bangladesh signed a nuclear fuel supply agreement with Russia for the project.

Under the deal, Russian state-owned nuclear fuel firm TVEL Joint Stock Company will supply nuclear fuel for the entire life span of the power plant.

Each unit of the power plant will have to reload one-third of the total required nuclear fuel every 18 months, and the first, second and third reloads will be provided by the Russian firm, free of cost.

Each reloading of nuclear fuel will cost $62 million, equivalent to Tk550 crore.

Shawkat said that after the installation of the pressure vessel at the second unit, the major work that will remain unfinished include pre-operational testing and fuel loading.

“We hope, we’ll perform these works by June next year,” he said adding, some more work will be required to be completed before commissioning the project.

“Construction of power grid line and building of communication and security systems are among the important work required to be completed before mid-2024,” he said.

The second half of the year 2024 is set to be the deadline to start commercial operation of the 1,200 MW first unit of the nuclear power plant while the second unit in 2025, said Shawkat, also managing director of Nuclear Power Company Bangladesh Limited (NPCBL), a dedicated company to deal with nuclear power plant.

Initially, a target was set to start the commercial operation of the first unit from 2022 and second unit from 2023 and then the target was deferred.

Officials of NPCBL said about 14,000 foreign workers from different western countries, including Russia and Belarus, are now engaged in the project under the contractor and its sub-contractors to execute different works.