Belarus open to cooperation with Bangladesh in nuclear power field: Energy Minister

Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik
Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik

Bangladesh and Belarus opting for nuclear power have much to learn from each other, says Belarus’ Minister of Energy Vladimir Potupchik in an interview to Nuclear Asia on the sidelines of the ongoing 22nd Belarusian Energy and Ecology Forum and Energy Expo. Belarus, which has opted for two water-water type reactors VVER-1200 of Russian design with total capacity of 2400 MW is also gaining from the localization of the project as 70 per cent of the work is being carried out by its specialists. This expertise, the Minister says, Belarus is ready to share with Bangladesh that has recently started work on its first Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

Are there any potential spheres for cooperation between Belarus and Bangladesh when it comes to Nuclear Power generation?

Of course, we know that the People’s Republic of Bangladesh intends to develop nuclear power. We embarked on it at the beginning of the 2000s. You know that Nuclear Power Plant construction, which is currently the largest investment project in the Republic of Belarus, is about to be completed. We plan to commission the first and the second power units of the NPP in December 2019 and at the end of 2020 respectively. We have certain competences in this sphere. This is a joint project of Russia and Belarus because Belarusian organizations are actively involved in the implementation of this investment project.

The unique experience which we get from the implementation of this investment project allows us to share the acquired competences with our colleagues and friends. This is why we are always open and ready to show everything we can do in this sphere. To confirm this, I can say that our NPP site has been visited by representatives of many countries that aim for nuclear power development.

As you know, Bangladesh is going to build a NPP. Sometime ago Belarus also faced the dilemma whether to opt for nuclear power. Why did you choose nuclear power?

There is a serious discussion in the world right now: which is better to develop – nuclear power or renewable energy sources? I believe that the truth lies somewhere in between, this is why we have focused on energy balance. During the conference we talked about how to develop the energy system of Belarus in a balanced way. In this sense, renewable energy sources are currently being developed rather actively in Belarus. Actually, we decided that we need to develop nuclear power in our country because it will provide us with clean energy; in addition, this will allow us to stimulate the development of related sectors of the national economy.

In your opinion, what are the main advantages of nuclear power?

When zeroing in on an energy source, we must take into account several factors: the economic factor, i.e. the efficiency of the energy system of Belarus and energy prices for our consumers; secondly, the environmental factor, which is extremely important for everyone, including those who live next to us, in this era of globalization; finally, the third task, which is as important as those mentioned above, is to ensure a reliable power supply to our consumers.

What do you expect from having a Nuclear Power Plant in your country?

I have already said that Belarusian specialists are actively involved in the construction of the NPP. As part of localization, up to 70 per cent of all construction and installation is carried out by Belarusian specialists. As a result, we have been involved in the supply of equipment to the NPP, including our industry, namely in relation to the spheres where we have considerable competences. Furthermore, this is a very good way to train our specialists, allowing them to build on the necessary expertise today in order to use it not only in Belarus, but also possibly in Bangladesh in the future. Today, our Russian partners with whom we are actively cooperating in the construction of this facility are making such suggestions because our specialists are highly professional and competent; thus, we expect that we will be able to implement joint projects in the third countries. We are also prepared to participate in the implementation of Bangladesh project if they invite us to do so.