Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the installation of a reactor pressure vessel at the second unit of the 2,400 MW Rooppur nuclear power plant (RNPP) on Wednesday amid high enthusiasm for the country's maiden nuclear power plant, officials say.
They say that the first unit of the project has already made 70 percent progress in physical work, and with the installation of the reactor pressure vessel at the second unit the project will have overall 53 percent of physical work.
The country's lone nuclear power plant, being constructed at Ishwardi of the northern district of Pabna at a total cost of US$ 12.65 billion, will have two units, each having 1200 MW of power generation capacity.
Director General of Russia's Rosatom State Corporation Alexey Likhachev, who is scheduled to fly from Moscow to Dhaka, is expected to physically attend the event while the Prime Minister would join virtually from her official residence in Dhaka.
In October last year, the Prime Minister had inaugurated the reactor pressure vessel of the first unit.
"With the installation of the reactor pressure vessel, the project's second unit's physical work will achieve over 45 percent of the target", Dr Md Shawkat Akbar, the project director in the country's biggest scheme in power generation, told UNB.
The government undertook the project in 2009 and after a long discussion signed an $11.385 billion credit agreement with Russian Federation on July 26 in 2016 to implement the project through appointing the Russian state nuclear energy firm-Rosatom--as its contractor.
In addition, on August 6, 2019, Bangladesh signed a nuclear fuel supply agreement with Russia for the project.
Under the deal, the Russian state-owned nuclear fuel firm TVEL Joint Stock Company will supply nuclear fuel for the entire life span of the power plant.
Each unit of the power plant will have to reload one-third of the total required nuclear fuel after every 18 months and the first, second and third reloads will be provided by the Russian firm free of cost.
Each reloading of nuclear fuel will cost $62 million, equivalent to Tk 550 crore.
Dr Shawkat Akbar informed that after the installation of the pressure vessel at the second unit, the major work that will remain unfinished include pre-operational testing and fuel loading.
"We hope, we'll perform these work by June next year", he said adding, some more work will be required to be completed before commissioning the project.
"Construction of power grid line and building of communication and security systems are among the important work required to be completed before mid 2024", he said.
The second half of the year 2024 is set to be the deadline to start commercial operation of the 1200 MW first unit of the nuclear power plant while the second unit in 2025, said Dr Shawkat Akbar, also managing director of the Nuclear Power Company Bangladesh Limited (NPCBL), a dedicated company to deal with nuclear power plant.
Initially, a target was set to start the commercial operation of the first unit from 2022 and second unit 2023 and then the target was deferred.
Officials of the NPCBL said about 14,000 foreign workers from different western countries, including Russia and Belarus, are now engaged in the project under the contractor and its sub-contractors to execute different works.
After the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, uncertainty was created about the timely implementation of the project.
But Rosatom, the Russian contractor of the RNPP project, in a statement on March 1 this year dismissed such uncertainty, saying that there will be no disruption in timely completion of the scheme.
"No disruption is foreseen in any of the commitments and work schedules in the construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant," said Rosatom.
Although nothing was mentioned in the statement about the current war between Russia and Ukraine, it is assumed that Rosatom issued the clarification against the backdrop of the concerns created over financial sanctions on Russia imposed by US and some Western countries.
Rosatom officials mentioned the installation of pressure vessel at the Unit-2 as a very special event.
They said the operation to install the VVER-1200 reactor vessel of the second power unit in the design position was carried out in several stages.
A Liebherr-11350 heavy crawler crane lifted the reactor vessel onto the transport portal of the power unit.
Then, on a special transport trolley, it was moved to the central hall of the reactor compartment. Further, with the help of a polar crane, the reactor vessel was turned into a vertical position and installed on a support ring in the reactor shaft.
Rosatom said the VVER-1200 reactor vessel manufactured by AEM-Technologies (reactor vessel weight - 333.6 tons, length - 11.18 m, diameter - 4.57 m) passed the input control in accordance with all regulatory requirements before installation.
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