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Thursday, May 14, 2015, Baishakh 31, 1422 BS, Rajab 24, 1436 Hijr

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Reactor
Technology not yet finalised, team set to visit Russia
Shahnaj Begum
Published : Thursday, 14 May, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 100

The Ministry of Science and Technology is yet to finalise or choose any technology although a team is set to visit the Russian Federation next week to fix 'upper limit of the credit' for the procurement of nuclear reactor for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP).  
According to sources, as the ministry has not yet decided about any technology, it is yet to determine the total cost, real price of a reactor and the interest rate for the loan of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project although a joint coordination committee (JCC) has been working on the issue.
"We are yet to select any particular technology as technical-monetary-socio-environment factors are related with this. However,  we are at the stage of finalising the consultation process under which we could able to start the loan negotiation stage which needs one more year to complete," Project Director of RNPP Dr Sawkat Akber told the Daily Observer.
According to the ministry, a Bangladeshi delegation comprising representatives of the Finance and Science and Technology Ministries, and the Economic Relations Division (ERD) will visit Russia in between May 18-20 to sign an agreement to finalise the consultation process for kicking off the general construction work on the RNPP.
Earlier, Bangladesh wanted to procure the Voda Voda Energo Reactor (VVER) technology, which is considered to be the safest nuclear power technology with active and passive safety systems. It has been used in the recently built Kudankulum nuclear plant in India and Buhsher nuclear plant in Iran, and will be used in under-construction nuclear plants in China, Hungary, Turkey and Finland.
But it shifted from earlier position and set to purchase VVER-TOI which addressed the Fukushima accident issue. It also complies with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and European Union's (EU's) recommendations which is better than VVER-1200.  Subsequently, it adds 'water cooling' issue, which is mandatory for a nuclear power project. It is expected to be an 'ultra super turn-key' project.
"Two teams will visit Russia to discuss the technical and financial issues. The technical team will discuss the 'scope of work and obligations' and the other team will deal in 'the financial matters for general construction," said the PD.
Following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directive, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the RNPP authorities have to settle the monetary issue with Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), the contractor of RNPP that has arisen over the increased cost of the feasibility study, and now both the sides have agreed to ink the final deal for the general construction of RNPP, according to a source in the ministry.
Earlier, it was estimated that Bangladesh would require around USD 1.5 to USD 3 billion to complete the job, but recently it has been estimated that around (minimum) USD 6 billion will be needed to install the project with the latest technology.
"The cost may double or even more but that is not the issue. Following the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear technology is changing very fast in terms of safety and security, but we forget one major issue that is to ensure "grace period" of the reactor for at least 72 hours (the term grace period is used to describe the ability of a plant to remain in a safe condition for a substantial period of time after an incident or accident, without need for any human intervention)," a senior official of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) told the daily Observer.
Energy-starved Bangladesh has signed a feasibility study contract with Russia to implement the country's first nuclear power plant to produce 2,000 megawatt of electricity at Rooppur, 125 km northwest of Dhaka, to meet the growing energy demand that grows 10-12 per cent yearly, and planned to produce 10 per cent of total electricity from the nuclear power plant for meeting the burgeoning energy demand.
As per the deal, Bangladesh is to repay the amount in 12 years, with a five-year grace period. The final construction cost would be repaid in 28 years, with a grace period of 15 years, according to the science and technology ministry.
Although it is a state-to-state deal, there is no document in writing on the financial aspect of the deal, a highly placed source told this correspondent, "If we do not write every word of the financial negotiations in detail, then big problems can arise in future," he added.
It was announced earlier that Russia will provide state credit to Bangladesh to implement the RNPP. However, Russia has approved credit to Bangladesh to complete geo-technical feasibility study which Bangladesh is to repay in 12 years, with a five-year grace period. The final construction cost would be repaid in 28 years, with a grace period of 15 years.
 Under the plan, the preparatory works are scheduled to be completed in 2016. The main construction will begin then. It might take five to six years, according to the standard schedule. There is a plan to commission the RNPP in the early 2020.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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