Government officials in Sri Lanka said they will work with Russia to bring nuclear power to the country as part of its effort to increase the supply of electricity for the island nation.

Professor S.R.D. Rosa, chairman of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, told local media the country is looking at offshore and onshore installation of small modular reactors, or floating nuclear installations, that would have generation capacity of 100 MW per unit. The Daily Mirror newspaper on March 1 reported that Rosa said, “The government has sought to implement the project in collaboration with the Russian government. The required technology will be provided by them, and they had also agreed to take back the nuclear waste. The Russian government has the technology to reprocess the nuclear waste.”

Bandula Gunawardana, a Sri Lanka Cabinet spokesperson and minister, said the country wants to diversify its power supply and considers nuclear a low-carbon option. Officials in 2021 made a pledge for Sri Lanka to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The island receives most of its electricity from hydropower, followed by the burning of coal and fuel oil.

Russia has said it could provide the island of Sri Lanka with nuclear power. The technology could include a floating nuclear power plant. The Akademic Lomonosov, pictured here, is a pioneering floating nuclear facility that was fully commissioned in the Pevek, Chukotka region in the Russian Far East in May 2020. The plant includes coastal infrastructure and a floating power unit equipped with two KLT-40S reactors of 35 MWe each. Courtesy: Rosatom

Sri Lankan officials last year submitted a self-evaluation report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), asking for approval to establish an independent nuclear regulatory body and also develop training programs for nuclear power personnel.

Russia is active in its support for nuclear power in Asia. It is notably building the two-reactor, 2.4-GW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the first nuclear power facility in Bangladesh, which is expected to enter commercial operation next year. The Rooppur plant will feature VVER-1200 reactors from Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear power group.

Levan Dzhagaryan, Russia’s new ambassador to Sri Lanka, last month met with members of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board to discuss Russia’s support for nuclear power on the island. The talks included a meeting with Kanchana Wijesekera, Sri Lanka’s minister of Power and Energy. Dzhagaryan told local media that Russia is ready to support construction of two 55-MW nuclear power stations.

“To begin with, it could be two plants, then four plants, and finally six plants. This suggestion was critical from several perspectives. First and foremost, this would save oil and coal. Second, because there will be no coal, it will be environmentally friendly, and the ecology will be safe and secure. It is also less expensive,” said Dzhagaryan in an interview with Ceylon Today.

Dzhagaryan previously was Russia’s ambassador to Iran and oversaw completion of that country’s first commercial reactor at Bushehr in 2011.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).