COLOMBO, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka is to have its first nuclear power plant within the next 20 years to generate cheap electricity to draw large investments and boost its post-war economy, a top government official said on Monday.
“We have received government clearance to set up a nuclear power plant of 1,000 MW,” M.M.C. Ferdinando, the secretary of the Ministry of Power and Energy told an investor forum in Colombo.
Ferdinando said the government would begin feasibility studies soon for nuclear power in addition to coal, and hoped to get safety approval from the World Atomic Energy Authority.
“You have to have the plant and safety measures for disposal before starting the plant by 2030.”
Ferdinando did not elaborate on the cost or whether Sri Lanka would get help from Iran, which has been a staunch anti-western ally of the island nation and its main crude oil supplier.
Investors have long complained of expensive electricity and poor infrastructure, neglected during a 25-year war that ended in May last year, had deterred potential investors.
The $42-billion economy, which currently depends 60 percent on diesel power and 40 percent on hydro power, is in the process of building a 900-MW coal power plant with a loan of more than $1.3 billion from China and a 500 MW coal power plant with an Indian loan.
Sri Lanka plans to cut its diesel power dependence to 20 percent of total electricity generation by 2017 once both coal power plants have started full operation. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)