Kenya edges closer to adoption of nuclear power
You may soon begin using power generated from nuclear sources as Kenya engages speed gear in the establishment of a nuke plant.
The plan is set to diversify Kenya's electricity generation mix.
An 11-member team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency are in Nairobi for feasibility analysis on critical areas on the investment and advise the country accordingly.
Energy and Petroleum Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge said the country’s population was growing fast and the available energy sourcing options were fast depleting hence the decision to go nuclear.
“Our energy demand in the next decade will be close to 50,000 megawatts. Our base sources such as geothermal, which is the base load can only give us about 20,000MW, we have almost exhausted the entire hydro potential and that means we have to diversify. Developed nations all have nuclear energy as a key source,” Mr Njoroge said.
The team of experts will take one week to review documents submitted by the government.
In Africa, only South Africa has an operational nuclear power generator while Egypt and Nigeria have began the roll-out of projects in this sector.
Kenya’s plant may be set up by 2025 according to Mr Njoroge who also said the journey towards generating nuclear energy started close to five decades ago.
IAEA senior adviser on nuclear energy Ann Starz, who is heading the experts, said the introduction of a nuclear energy source as an alternative to the conventional sources will be a big boost for Kenya’s industrilisation.
“It is not possible to put all of your energy needs in just one basket, a diversified sources of energy portfolio can contribute to energy stability and nuclear has a big role to play as part of robust sources. Many other countries are considering this option and African is not an exception,” Ms Starz said.
The team will take 30 days to produce a comprehensive report advising Kenya on 19 key infrastructural areas, including the citing and waste management.
The discussions, which started on Monday, were closed door as media was not allowed in.
The decision on whether to start the plant and how to manage it will, however, be left to the government.
The nuclear plans are spear-headed by the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) chaired by Ochilo Ayacko.
A meeting held by KNEB and IAEA in April at Kwale projected Kenya’s ability to establish four nuclear power plants with a capacity to generate 1,000MW each.
The cost was estimated to be between Sh500 billion and Sh900 billion per plant.
Kenya has been an active member of the IAEA 1965, the global body at the fore-front of developing guidelines for countries looking to adopt nuclear energy.
The energy source is feared for its complex safety requirements and harmful wastes. Fatal nuclear disasters such as the one at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011 drove European countries such as Germany to start winding up such plants.
Comprehensive legislation, however, is expected to be addressed in the Energy Bill 2015.