By Kofi Adu Domfeh, Moscow, Russia
The Ghana Atomic Energy Agency says the country is making headway in its nuclear power programme to help address the power generation deficit.
Director General of the Commission, Professor Benjamin Nyarko, says inspite of the programme’s benefits to the economy, there is no rush to compromise on safety standards.
“Nuclear is a long journey programme and the construction of the nuclear power plant itself takes between three and five years like any other plant like hydro but the development of the infrastructure which involves about 19 issues to address is what takes time,” he noted.
Ghana has been striving to meet the requirements since 2013, which includes adhering to international safety standards, especially in the management of radioactive waste.
The country’s roadmap with the International Atomic Energy Agency is to get a nuclear power plant as part of the energy mix by 2029.
Prof. Nyarko says the plan is on course to get the first nuclear power plant running in the next 13 years.
“If we double up and move faster, the time will be shorter than that because Ghana has a lot of experience in this area,” he noted.
Interest in nuclear energy is growing globally because it is clean and green with long term economic benefits.
African economies, suffering from electricity generation deficits to meet industrial and domestic demands, are exploring the nuclear option.
Ghana passed the Nuclear Regulatory Bill last year with the objective to provide the framework for the beneficial and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Russia is among other major international partners in the country’s nuclear infrastructural development.
The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission is already partnering Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) to construct two nuclear power plants to produce 2,400 megawatts of electricity in Ghana.
Officials from the Commission and the Ministry of Power took part in the ATOMEXPO 2016 in Moscow, Russia, to explore opportunities and partnerships in going nuclear.
But government’s recent attention to coal powered sources to the energy mix could impact on investments in nuclear energy to meet the set target.
There has been opposition to the coal option described as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Prof. Nyarko believes the country stands to benefit most from nuclear power though and advocates a good energy mix to ensure energy security for Ghana.
“If we need about 20,000megawatts of electricity to push our industries and economy, then we don’t have to rely on only thermal or coal but we bring in all other energies that are available. But I think that nuclear energy can add cheaper energy for industrialization than any other sources apart from hydro and all our hydro resources are all gone,” he observed.
He also argued that nuclear energy offers the opportunity to grow greener economies and for Ghana to conform to the new Paris Agreement on climate change for countries to promote clean energy solutions.