Background of Nuclear Power in Bangladesh
Nuclear energy is presently being introduced in Bangladesh as a safe, sustainable, and financially viable source of energy. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1973, but the country first contemplated building a nuclear power plant in 1961. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, built by a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM, is the most ambitious project in the country’s history and is located in the Pabna District. The plant will include two units, with the first slated to open in 2023 and the second in 2024. The combined power capacity of the units will be 2400 MW(e). The Bangladeshi government aims to build 5000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2030, and after Rooppur begins producing energy, a second plant would be built in the south. The plant is still owned by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, however it is managed by the Nuclear Power Company of Bangladesh (NPCB). The first nuclear power plant is scheduled to be operational by 2023-2024, supplying 10% of the world’s electricity demands (Al Jazeera, 2023).
How Nuclear Power Helps Sustainable Growth
Nuclear power is seen as a tool for sustainable development in Bangladesh’s energy industry since it is a dependable, economical, and renewable energy source. The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is expected to significantly reduce the nation’s dependency on fuel imports and contribute in the goal of sustainable growth by providing a continuous supply of power. Bangladesh has been suffering an electricity crisis since 2013 due to unexpected weather patterns and financial issues linked with fuel imports. The Rooppur NPP plans to contribute 4% of world power generation by 2030, providing energy to 100% of the population. Bangladesh seeks to diversify, increase, and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels by incorporating nuclear power and renewable energy sources into its electrical sector, as the country’s electricity demand climbs by about 7% each year (World Nuclear Association, 2023).
The national sustainable development objectives will be largely realized by 2030, and access to power will be considerably expanded owing to the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant’s continuous production of 2400 megawatts of clean electricity. Nuclear power would strengthen Bangladesh’s social, economic, scientific, and technological capacities, therefore its deployment would benefit the country for reasons other than its energy demands. Russia’s national nuclear energy firm, Rosatom, is developing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant with a $11.38 billion loan that will be paid back over 20 years beginning in 2027 (Al Jazeera, 2023). Despite two years of restraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and war-related sanctions, the plant’s construction has been delayed; nonetheless, the project is proceeding as planned.
Nuclear Power and Smart Bangladesh 2041
The nuclear power plant is another step toward the smart Bangladesh that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared she wishes to see in the future. It is expected that Moscow and Dhaka would continue to see the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant as a symbol of their tight bilateral relations. Bangladesh has moved one step closer to being able to create nuclear energy after receiving its first shipment of nuclear fuel. Bangladesh’s energy industry has grown owing in great part to Sheikh Hasina’s strong leadership, including the development of a nuclear power plant (WION, 2023).
Sheikh Hasina’s Vision for Smart Bangladesh
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s longest-serving prime minister, intends to build a “Smart Bangladesh” and transform the country into a knowledge-based, high-income economy by 2041. Smart citizens, smart economies, smart governments, and smart society are the four fundamental pillars of her commitment to transforming Bangladesh into a smart country. The poverty rate in Bangladesh fell from 41.5% in 2006 to 18.7% in 2022, and the country’s extreme poverty rate fell from 25.1% to 5.6%. The breadth of the social safety net has been expanded to ensure the financial and social security of widows, the elderly, persons with disabilities, individuals of the third gender, and other vulnerable groups in society. Because Bangladesh is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, the government established the “Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund” to aid with climate adaptation. Over 800,000 households have gotten free housing as part of her government’s landmark “Ashrayan” initiative, which aims to assist the homeless and landless (Chowdhury, 2023). Sheikh Hasina’s administration has put in place a variety of initiatives to help Smart Bangladesh achieve its aims, including:
• ICT Parks and Special Economic Zones: By constructing these facilities and establishing regulations that support innovation and entrepreneurship, the government has created an entrepreneur-friendly environment.
• Skilled Manpower: In order to make the vision a reality, the Prime Minister has directed the Smart Bangladesh Task Force to focus on building informed and technologically savvy human resources (UNB, 2023).
• Digital Devices: There would be an increase in the production of electronic devices, as well as a commensurate development of the regional market.
• Equitable Growth: Another objective of Smart Bangladesh is equality. Its forerunner, the Digital Bangladesh vision, used a bottom-up approach to improve public service accessibility. Ethical development is a notion that a wise Bangladesh must promote.
• Infrastructure Investments: The country has made considerable investments in port infrastructure, a road-rail bridge across the Padma River, and metro lines, and it has just built a road-rail bridge. These initiatives may be seen around the country (Chowdhury, 2023).
Notable Mega Projects of Bangladesh
Like many of Bangladesh’s previous large-scale efforts, 2023 will be ambitious. Bangladesh is now working on twenty significant projects with the assistance of forty-five credit packages, which include grants, concessionary loans, half-concessionary loans, and bank loans (Sabha, 2023). The major focus of these programs is the construction of schools, hospitals, universities, and other critical institutions. These efforts will have an impact on all people’ lives since they are expected to have a substantial beneficial impact on the nation’s economy and reach well beyond infrastructure. Bangladesh will have a number of notable mega-projects in 2023, including:
• Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel Project: This project is an underwater tunnel 3.5 kilometers long will connect Chittagong with Cox’s Bazar. The first flight is expected to take place in 2023 (Hossain, 2023).
• Padma Bridge Rail Link project: The projected 225-kilometer Padma Bridge Rail Link project would bridge the Padma Bridge and connect Dhaka with Jashore. The first flight is expected to take place in 2023.
• Dhaka-Sylhet highway expansion: The Tk 16,918.59 crore project will enhance the Dhaka-Sylhet motorway beginning in February 2023.
• Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-1: Construction on the Tk 52,561.43 core project, which would establish the country’s first underground metro train line, began in February 2023.
• Third terminal of Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport: The airport’s third terminal is scheduled to open in October 2023 (Hossain, 2023).
• Padma Rail Bridge: The Padma Rail Bridge is scheduled to open in October 2023.
• Agargaon-Motijheel part of Dhaka Metro Rail: It is anticipated that this section of the system would open in October 2023.
• Two third-generation reactors of VVER 1200 type: Two VVER 1200 reactors of the third generation: Bangladesh will obtain economically cost, safe power from two third-generation VVER 1200 reactors financed by Russia for hundreds of years. It is expected to be completed in 2023 (Sabha, 2023).
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is a significant project for Bangladesh’s energy industry and the country’s future aim to become a smart nation. Sheikh Hasina’s strong leadership has tremendously aided the project’s expansion, and it has drawn attention to the tight bilateral ties that exist between Moscow and Dhaka. The nuclear power facility is expected to help Bangladesh achieve sustainable growth by providing a reliable source of electricity and reducing dependency on fuel imports. It is also expected that the nation’s more than twenty large projects will play a significant role in its growth throughout the next century.
Chowdhury, A. (2023, June 17). Smart Bangladesh is prosperous, equitable and caring. WhiteBoard Magazine. https://whiteboardmagazine.com/3854/smart-bangladesh-is-prosperous-equitable-and-caring/
UNB. (2023, August 3). Build skilled tech-savvy manpower: PM Hasina to Smart Bangladesh Task Force. The Business Standard. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/build-skilled-tech-savvy-manpower-pm-hasina-smart-bangladesh-task-force-676462
Hossain, A. (2023, September 22). Major mega projects to make economy stronger. Bangladesh Post. https://bangladeshpost.net/posts/major-mega-projects-to-make-economy-stronger-115705
Sabha, S. (2023, September 22). Mega Projects of Bangladesh in 2023. Youth Policy Forum. https://ypfbd.org/mega-projects-of-bangladesh-in-2023/
World Nuclear Association. (2023, September 23). Nuclear Power in Bangladesh. Retrieved from https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/bangladesh.aspx
Al Jazeera. (2023, October 6). Bangladesh gets first uranium shipment from Russia for nuclear power plant. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/6/bangladesh-gets-first-uranium-shipment-from-russia-for-nuclear-power-plant
WION. (2023, October 6). Bangladesh launches power plant built by Russia in Rooppur | Latest News | WION [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLL5gaEd54
About the Author: Dr. Dilip Nath is a think tank executive leader in the higher education and healthcare vertical. By passion a voting right advocate, human Rights defender and a political activist. A Harvard Kennedy School Alumnus who deeply care about the transparent public policy and its correct implementation in government