Sri Lanka seeks investors as South Asia nuclear age begins in earnest

Sri Lanka is seeking to court international investors as it plans a significant roll-out of nuclear power plants, its energy minister said, as the country seeks to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

At present, 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 (Twitter), 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 and Pakistan are the only two South Asian countries to have nuclear power plants, while Bangladesh is in the process of setting them up.

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