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Gridline uncertainty may delay benefit from RNPP

Ashraful Islam Raana
20 Oct 2023 21:59:06 | Update: 20 Oct 2023 21:59:06
Gridline uncertainty may delay benefit from RNPP

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna has been recognised as a nuclear facility through the uranium handover on October 5. The government expects that RNPP will contribute at least 2 per cent to the national economy.

The Ministry of Science and Technology expects that power generation from Rooppur nuke plant will begin in September next year on an experimental basis and electricity will finally reach the people by early 2025.

However, state-run Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, which is building the grid line of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, says that it will not be possible to install the transmission line before June 2025 because there are three critical river crossings within the transmission line. The installation work is still in initial stage.

RNPP has two units with the generation capacity of 1,200 MW each, Project Director Shawkat Akbar said, adding that 90 per cent work of the first unit has been completed. The work progress of the second unit is 70 per cent.

He said that the first unit will be fully ready for fuel installation by next April. Uranium fuel will be installed once the transmission line is completed. Power generation will begin on a trial basis in September, 2024.

In the first phase, 20 per cent electricity will be produced. After the success of the first phase, production will start in 50 and 70 per cent phases and in the last phase, it will go into production in full swing. It usually takes 10 months to go through these stages. Commercial production will begin in early 2025.

When asked, RNPP transmission line Project Director Q M Shafiqul Islam said that the work of the main transmission line will be completed on time. Currently piling, tower erection and electric cable laying work is going on. The remaining river-crossing work will take another year and a half to complete.

According to PGCB's website, the total transmission line connected to Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is 669 km, of which 464 km is 400 KV and 205 km is 230 KV transmission lines. The long transmission line has a total of 16 km of river crossings among 7 km 400 kV double circuit line on Jamuna, 2 km 400 kV single circuit line on Padma and 7 km 230 kV double circuit line on Jamuna River.

It is learnt that while the transmission line of Rooppur was built with loans from India, the river crossing work is being done with domestic loans. According to PGCB, the cost of 16 km river crossing has been estimated at Tk 6,563 crore. On the other hand, the cost of constructing the main transmission line is Tk 10,981.74 crore. This includes Indian funding of Tk 8,219 crore, Bangladesh government funding of Tk 1,527.63 crore and PGCB funding of Tk 1,235 crore.

While visiting the RNPP project area on October 5, Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman told reporters that the power plant will not be ready, transmission line will be needed. “We aim to start supplying electricity by early 2025. For this, we are in constant communication with PGCB.”

The prime minister said that through this project, the benefit of the backward people of North Bengal should be ensured, he added.

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said once RNPP starts power generation, the capacity of the northern region will rise to 4,847 MW. Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) officials say nuclear power plant is still the most popular option around the world as it generates cheap and carbon-free electricity.

According to BPDB, the average cost of per unit power generation is around Tk 10. At present, the cost of power generation using all types of sources, except for gas, has exceeded Tk 10 per unit.

However, the electricity to be generated by RNPP will cost Tk 4-4.35 per unit. RNPP will reduce the pressure of importing expensive gas, coal and fuel.

Project Director Shawkat Akbar said one of the main objectives of building RNPP in the north is to ensure the supply of cheap electricity to the northern districts and help their agro-based economy flourish and improve their poor condition. People will get electricity from RNPP for about 100 years. A lot of jobs will be created around this project as infrastructure development takes place, he said.

Security measures

Project Director Shawkat Akbar said various levels of security measures have been taken about Rooppur. The construction of the power plant has to be approved step by step eight levels in total, with each level requiring IAEA approval to move to the next level. That is, after passing the exam, you have to enter the next step. Many international authorities have closely monitored.

He said there is no reason to worry about radiation. The levels of radiation will be within human tolerance. We will launch 23 radiation stations, where radiation levels will be displayed. Anyone can see. These stations will be up to 18 km apart. However, monitoring is not required at a distance of 12.5 km. People can do as they are living now.

Loan repayment

Shawkat Akbar said that installment payments will start two years after commercial production of the second unit. The total cost of this project is about Tk 1.14 thousand crore. Russia is lending 90 per cent of the cost, which must be repaid over 28 years.

The government plans to get 40 per cent of the country's total electricity from clean energy by 2041. As part of this, two more nuclear power plants are planned to be built at Rooppur, said the project director.