Sri Lanka seeks investors for nuclear power plants

Kanchana Wijesekera

Sri Lanka’s Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera

Sri Lanka will call for expressions of interest (EOI) in setting up nuclear power plants, its energy minister said on Friday, as it seeks cheap electricity to support its economic recovery.

The primary source of energy in the island nation is from imported oil and coal, and hydropower. The government aims to produce 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and it sees nuclear power as a low-carbon option for its energy mix. It aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“The government intends to include the safe use of nuclear energy as a part of the long-term generation plans,” Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a post on the X social media platform, after meeting officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Colombo.

The government “will call for EOIs for establishing nuclear power plants & modern technology”, he said.

Media in July cited Wijesekera as saying that Sri Lanka was assessing nuclear power plant offers from Russia, United States, India and some European countries.

In 2010, the then energy secretary said Sri Lanka planned to build a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant by 2030.

India is the only South Asian country to have a nuclear power plant, built with Russian collaboration, while Bangladesh and Pakistan are in the process of setting them up.

Russia’s state-owned atomic company is building two nuclear power plants in Bangladesh while China and Pakistan signed a deal in June to build a 1,200-megwatt plant in Punjab province.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, secured a $2.9 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund in March to tackle a suffocating debt burden and its worst economic crisis since the end of colonial rule in 1948.