The power generation cost at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will be between Tk4 and Tk4.50 per unit for at least the first two decades, which will be much lower than the cost at coal-fired plants but higher than that at gas-fired ones.
Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman disclosed this on Saturday while talking to the media about the progress of the country's first nuclear power plant which is now under-construction in Pabna with a $13 billion Russian loan.
Work on the nuclear plant is now going on at the required pace despite setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
Accordingly, the first nuclear reactor pressure vessel – that contains the reactor of the plant and is a major installation – will be set up in December this year.
The minister said, "The power generation cost may drop a bit after the loan repayment period for the project is over."
Determining nuclear power cost is complicated because the lifecycle of these plants can be almost three times that of a gas- or coal-fired power plant. The life cycle of the reactors is 60 years with the possibility of further extension.
The cost is derived through calculating a number of factors including price of fuel over the next decades, lending terms, complex plant operation cost, external and other costs.
Earlier, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) had hinted that the price per unit or one kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity would be Tk6 to Tk7 per unit.
Currently, an average generation cost of electricity is Tk5.67 which is being produced from conventional sources of energy such as gas, coal, diesel and furnace oil.
Diesel, furnace oil and coal are comparatively expensive primary fuel to generate electricity as the per-kilowatt of electricity generation cost from these energy sources is Tk28.17, Tk13.77 and Tk8.25 respectively, according to data from the Bangladesh Power Development Board.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), the state's sole buyer of electricity from producers, will also purchase electricity from this plant.
Syead Ahmed, former member at BPDB, said, "The given generation cost of nuclear power seems okay compared to costs of Liquefied Natural Gas and oil-based electricity production."
Talking about the loan that Russia is providing for the project, Yeafesh Osman said, "If we can repay the loan to Russia in 20 years instead of 28 years, we will start getting full profit earlier than expected."
The nuclear power plant at Ishwardi in Pabna will have two units – each having 1,200 megawatts of capacity – and the first unit is scheduled to come into operation by October 2024.
The power units will be equipped with both active and passive safety systems, including Molten Core Catcher. Latest 3+ generation Russian VVER 1200 reactors will be used in the first-ever nuclear power plant of Bangladesh.
Atomenergomash is the single-source manufacturer for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant reactor hall and a supplier for most of the turbine island equipment.
Reactor pressure vessel installation to start in December
The installation of the reactor pressure vessel, the major equipment of the first unit of the nuclear power plant which provides a critical role in the safety of the reactor, is likely to start towards the end of this year.
Dr Md Shawkat Akbar, project director of the power plant, said "The installation of the reactor pressure vessel will begin on the last day this year. And construction of the first unit will be completed at the end of next year."
Talking about the progress of the reactor house, he said work on placing the vessel is also progressing at a rapid pace with 34.5 metres of the house already visible while its 35 metres were constructed below the surface level.
He said apart from the reactor pressure vessel, four more major pieces of equipment including steam generators, reactor cooling pumps have been manufactured and are waiting for transportation.
Last week, Rosatom in a statement said a VVER-1200 reactor and a steam generator, manufactured at the "Atommash" plant in Volgodonsk, the largest nuclear engineering production site in Russia, were shipped to the Rooppur nuclear power plant construction site.
Riverport prepared for unloading the equipment
The massive equipment – the reactor vessel weighing 330 tonnes and the steam generator weighing 340 tonnes – will be unloaded at the Rooppur power plant's jetty that has been built on the bank of the Padma River, adjacent to the Hardinge Bridge at Pakshi.
Atiqur Rahman, deputy manager at Rooppur power project, said the required navigability of the river is 4.5 metres to bring reactor vessels to the project site. At present, the river has a depth of about 12 metres. Even in the dry season, 5-6.5 metres of navigability has been recorded.
Two cranes are being built to land the vessel at the jetty. Each will have a carrying capacity of 306 tonnes. And to assemble these two cranes, a crane with a capacity of 600 tons is being brought.