The commercial operation of the first unit of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) is likely to be delayed for six months to one year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The plant may start electricity supply by the end of 2024, which was supposed to begin in December 2023, said State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid.
The state minister made the disclosure while addressing the media after visiting the construction site of the project in Ishwardi of Pabna on Thursday.
Nasrul said, “The work of Rooppur power plant could not be completed on time due to the impact of Covid-19. Power transmission line work has also been delayed. But we are trying to cover it up. However, the progress of all work is satisfactory. The first unit having capacity of 1,200MW of the plant has progressed 87 percent.”
Earlier, on the day of the inauguration of the nuclear reactor of the second unit of Rooppur power plant last October, Yeafesh Osman, Minister of Science and Technology, said that the first unit of Rooppur will come into production within the next year.
Nuclear scientist and RNPP Project Director (PD) Dr Md Shaukat Akbar was also present at the press briefing.
He said due to the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict, that time frame has been pushed to the mid to end of 2024.
When asked about recent media reports claiming that a Russian ship carrying RNPP project materials, currently under US sanctions, was denied permission to dock in Bangladesh port, the PD said, "This is a matter of the Foreign Ministry. They will be able to address this issue better."
Alexander Deiri, vice president of the contracting company Atomstroyexport, presented a paper on the progress of the Rooppur power plant.
He said that the German company Siemens AG has refused to supply equipment to the sub-station in Rooppur. In this situation, the contractor has been advised to take measures to prevent delay in the production of the first unit.
Russia is one of the pioneers of nuclear power. The country's first nuclear power plant project at Rooppur of Pabna is being implemented by a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom.
The project will host two nuclear power units each of 1,200 MW capacities. Latest generation 3+ Russian VVER 1200 reactor will be used for power generation, which complies with all international safety requirements.
On 2 October 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the first stone in the foundation of Rooppur NPP. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) had approved the construction of Rooppur NPP Project on 6 December 2016 at an estimated cost of Tk 1,13,092.91 crore.