Nigeria explores energy mix, targets 1,200mw from nuclear plants

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Atâyi Babs

Head of Nigeria’s Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC),  Erapamo Osaisai, has confirmed the country’s plans to generate power in excess of 1,200mw from each of its nuclear power plants.

The Atomic agency chief disclosed this in Abuja while submitting a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the development of nuclear power in Nigeria to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Mr. Osaisai said IAEA conducted an integrated nuclear infrastructure review mission in the country in June 2015 and that the nation’s nuclear power energy programme was on course to diversify power sources beyond gas and hydro sources.

“Our nuclear power plants are huge machines. And what we are planning is, each of the power plants will be generating power in excess of 1,200 megawatts.

“Nigeria is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“We are a member of the IAEA and our responsibility as a country is to utilise nuclear power in the safest way possible.

“And what Nigeria is doing, as we can tell, is diversifying our energy generation base beyond gas and hydro to include other sources for which nuclear is also being considered.’’

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on his own part, noted that the Federal Government is considering a mix of various energy sources for electricity supply. Besides working to improve power generation from the national grid, renewable energy is urgently being pursued, he said.

The agency chief said that the UN nuclear watchdog made recommendations that could help Nigeria develop its nuclear power projects.

“They (IAEA officials) have made a final report in, which there are specific recommendations, suggestions and also identifying good practices in the implementation of our own nuclear power programme in the country.

“That is the report they (we) came to submit to Mr Vice President.

“It’s quite a serious task and responsibility for a country to implement a nuclear power programme and what we do at the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission is to take leadership in building the pertinent nuclear power infrastructure.’’

According to Mr. Osaisai, NAEC has a nuclear power road map “which is being approved by government and that is what we are implementing’’.

He said that in the implementation of the road map, the organisation needed to build critical nuclear power infrastructure and enter into partnerships with international agencies and other technical partners.

Presidential doublespeak?

The extent to which this nuclear energy path  fits into President Buhari’s  self-confessed readiness to radically confront global issues such as climate change and terrorism affecting the country remains to be seen.
Shortly after his election, the president in his acceptance speech promised to make addressing global warming a priority when he assumes power on the 29th of May 2015.
Buhari while affirming that his government would play a more active role in diplomatic efforts to craft a global response to climate change stated “I assure all foreign governments that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive player in the global fight against terrorism and in other matters of collective concern, such as the fight against drugs, climate change, financial fraud, communicable diseases and other issues requiring global response.”
In an apparent case of doublespeak the Nigerian president in July 2015, declared that under his leadership, Nigeria will continue to support the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and human development only.
Energy poverty in Nigeria
Despite a wealth of fossil and renewable energy resources, Nigeria still reels under pervasive energy poverty as its per capita electricity use remains very low.
According to a study commissioned by Heinrich Bóll Foundation (Nigeria) on the West African Energy Transformation, “there is an urgent need to create a low carbon energy future that meets the sustainable development needs of all people in West Africa and puts an end to energy poverty.”
The study further observed that not all West Africans including Nigerians experience energy poverty at the same level. Energy poverty is not gender blind as far more women suffer its consequences than men do. Rich people living in the cities are better able to cope with a lack of reliable energy supply than the rural.
The need for optimal sustainable power supply mix and modern clean energy becomes imperative as communities currently served by the grid are struggling with blackouts, low voltage periods. Small and medium scale enterprises and households that can afford have resorted to the to the use of generators Renewable energy in Nigeria.
Nigeria is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources like large hydro (11,250 MW) small hydro (3,500 MW), solar (3.5 – 7.0 kWh/m2/day); an equivalent to 485.1 million MWh/day using 0.1% land area), biomass (fuelwood, animal wastes, agric residues, energy crops), wind (2-4 m/s at 10m height).
Others are tidal and ocean waves as well as geothermal. Recognising that renewable energy reduces sole dependence on fossil fuels and thus improves security of supply, reduces greenhouse gas emissions creating environmental benefits, while delivering green jobs to the economy, the Nigerian government has expressed its commitment to accelerating the development of renewable energy in the country through various national development goals like Vision 2020-20, National Bio-fuel Policies and the Energy Demand and Supply Projection Scenarios.
However, the expressed commitment remains largely bogged down by constraints in the rapid development and diffusion of technologies for the exploitation and utilisation of renewable energy resources in the country, lack of political will, absence of market and the lack of appropriate policy, regulatory and institutional framework to stimulate demand and attract investors.
The comparative low quality of the systems developed and the high initial upfront cost also constitute barriers to the development of markets. The Government’s ambitions for renewable energy and the related national targets are in line with global quest for a long term energy security and clean environment for sustainable development.
As the government continues to settle down, it will become increasingly clear that climate change, energy security and employment are inter-related challenges that can be addressed through the transformation of Nigeria’s economy from one based mainly on fossil fuel to a low carbon economy based around renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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