Power generation from nuclear sources is expected to add about 2,400 megawatts (MW) to the national grid as government makes progress in efforts to implement the Nuclear Power Programme (NPP).
Started in 2008, the NPP is to help complement power generation from other sources — hydro, thermal, solar and renewables — help bring the erratic power supply situation under control.
Although the new government has not formally announced its nuclear policy, a Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr William Aidoo, said there was a strong business case for the use of nuclear power as it was cheaper and generated almost zero carbon emissions.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the 2017 edition of ATOMEXPO in Moscow, Russia, Mr Aidoo said nuclear power was something the government was looking at and it would do this alongside the renewable energy target it had set for itself.
“Carbon emissions from nuclear is almost zero. It makes a strong business case. It is something that the government will be looking at as part of our power generation mix.”
“We are not doing it in competition with renewables. Renewables are going to be pursued as we are doing right now. It is a government policy to have 10 per cent mix of renewables and that is going to be pursued and the nuclear will come alongside,” he said.
Preliminary consultations for the nuclear agenda, he explained, had started and added that “we are talking to IAEA and other industry players if they will be interested in helping in that regard.”
The production of nuclear power has not been given any timelines yet but the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Professor Benjamin Nyarko, said the construction of one power plant was estimated to take between three to six years tp complete.
Ghana is looking at having two nuclear power plants, with a generation capacity of 1,200 megawatts each. This means a total of 2,200 MW is expected to be added to the country’s installed capacity with full nuclear power production.
Phase 2 in 2018
Prof. Nyarko, in a separate interview, said all the 19 infrastructural needs in the first phase of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirement, prior to starting a NPP.
“The NPP is in three phases and we just ended with phase one. We had 19 infrastructural needs to address and we’ve addressed all of them,” he said.
On phase two, he explained that although Ghana had fulfilled some of the requirements, including the of a law and establishment a nuclear regulatory authority, more feasibility studies needed to be done to ensure a smooth transition.
“We are hoping that in 2018, we will enter phase two. We are working on the recommendations and suggestions from the report on our phase one. We are doing more energy studies and also looking at our generation grid. We now have to get an owner operator and a vendor as part of phase two.”
“That is why we are here; maybe the Ghana government can decide to go with Rosatom or Russia. We are meeting with them to discuss the Project Development Agreement (PDA) which has been reviewed by the Attorney General and the legal department of the Energy Ministry,” he said.
Nuclear is cheaper
Although Ghana is not in a rush to start the NPP, Prof. Nyarko explained that it would provide the cheapest cource of electricity per kilowatt hour compared to the other generation sources.
“When you take energy issues, there are two sides — security and affordability — Ghana has a lot of installed capacity, and now we are operating at half capacity because of fuel-related issues.”
“Nuclear is the cheapest of all the energy sources. The initial capital is high but operating the plant is the least. If you leverage it over the 60 years of its operating period, then you get the least per kilowatt hour,” he said.
Industries are already reeling under the effect of the energy crises popularly known as ‘dumsor’.