03/27/2023, 13.54
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Sri Lanka and Russia towards a nuclear power agreement

by Arundathie Abeysinghe

Sri Lanka is considering building small, offshore and onshore reactors, deeming nuclear power an environmentally and economically viable option. Currently, its electricity comes mainly from hydroelectric power plants. The government is vetting an existing contract between Rosatom and Bangladesh.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Sri Lankan government wants to work with Russia to generate nuclear energy; hence, it is looking at the possibility of installing small, offshore and onshore modular reactors or floating nuclear plants.

To this end, the cabinet has given its approval for application to two international conventions on nuclear energy and damage.

The goal is to diversify the country’s power supply and nuclear energy is viewed as a low-carbon option to achieve carbon neutrality (zero emissions) by 2050.

Currently, Sri Lanka gets most of its electricity from on hydroelectric power, followed by coal and fuel oil.

According to official sources at the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, “Russia put forward a proposal to construct a nuclear power plant in Sri Lanka;” and proposed “an agreement for this purpose”.

Since it was a “government-to-government program, cabinet approval was given to consider nuclear energy as an alternative source of energy to meet Sri Lanka's future energy needs.”

“According to a proposal put forward by Russia, a team of Russian experts will operate the power plant and train Sri Lankans within three years to operate it.

Thus, “Sri Lanka hopes to have three barge-mounted offshore nuclear power plants with small modular reactors (SMRs) with a power capacity of up to 100 MW per unit.”

“Currently, Russia is number one in the world for the most nuclear reactor projects, with three units in Russia and 34 units overseas in various phases of construction,” said several senior engineers who spoke to AsiaNews.

More specifically, “Russia is active in its support for nuclear power [development] in Asia and is constructing the two-reactor, 2.4-GW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant” in Bangladesh, which will be the country’s “first nuclear power facility” and “is expected to enter commercial operation next year.”

India too has installed two nuclear power plants from Russia’s state-owned Rosatom nuclear company.

“In 2022, Sri Lankan officials submitted a self-evaluation report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” sources familiar with the file said.

The aim is to obtain “approval to establish an independent nuclear regulatory body, develop training programmes for nuclear power personnel, and provide supporting documents covering infrastructure issues,”.

For the sources, “Electricity generation by nuclear power is more environmentally friendly than energy sources such as oil, coal and gas, and, with the exception of the initial construction cost, less expensive.”

Indeed, “Unlike traditional power sources that can fluctuate over time, there is little possibility of cost inflation,” and this can “have a significantly positive impact on Sri Lanka’s current economic situation.”

Thus, “Sri Lanka is currently studying the agreement Russia has with Bangladesh in order to determine investments and repayment period.”

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