Sri Lanka to embrace nuclear energy with France expressing interest
By: Staff Writer
January 10, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is seriously considering the possibility of using nuclear energy moving away from its current reliance on fossil fuels (10 TWh) and hydropower (5 TWh), with small contributions from wind and solar.
France has emerged recently as one of the strongest contenders including Russia, US, India, Denmark ,China,and Canada to build nuclear power plants in Sri Lanka.
The island nation has been struggling to meet its energy demand given it is mostly relying on fossil fuel and coal. A dollar shortage has already hit the imports of fuel which had led to power cuts.
Electricity De France, the French power utility, had made a proposal on nuclear energy to Sri Lanka, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said following a meeting with the French envoy to discuss potential energy sector investments.
“We also discussed regarding a proposal by EDF (Electricity De France) on nuclear energy and possible partnerships in the future,” Wijesekera said on X (twitter), after meeting the French ambassador to Colombo Jean-Francois Pactet.
EDF will construct the new plants with tens of billions in public financing and chief executive Luc Rémont said his company aims to build roughly one 1.6GW reactor a year.
Minister Wijesekera had also briefed the ambassador on Sri Lanka’s nuclear energy integration plans, policy on renewable energy, smart grid development and energy efficiency plans, he said.
In 2022, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts assessed Sri Lanka’s readiness for a nuclear power programme through an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review.
Sri Lanka currently imports most of its energy needs, including oil, coal and hydrocarbons. To ease the economic burden, the island nation aims to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Russia has emerged as one of the strongest contenders to build nuclear power plants in Sri Lanka.
A high-level delegation from Russia recently visited the island nation and discussed proposed cooperation in the nuclear energy sector with the Sri Lankan authorities.
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority (SLAEA) Prof. S.R.D. Rosa briefed the Russian delegation on the status of Moscow’s proposal to develop an offshore or onshore nuclear power plant in Sri Lanka.
He said his office had in principle given its approval for nuclear power to enhance Sri Lanka’s energy mix and it had been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval
India in February 2015 sealed a nuclear energy agreement with Sri Lanka as the oldest contender to offer nuclear energy support and under the deal, India was to help Sri Lanka to build its nuclear energy infrastructure, including training of personnel.
It was also planned that India could sell light small-scale nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka which had been wanting to establish 600 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030. However, the project did not take off so far.
Minister Wijesekera said that Sri Lanka is assessing nuclear power plant offers from Russia, France and other countries at present without confirming the deals.