Ghana will build its first 1,000 megawatts (MW) nuclear power plant in ten years to offset its energy shortfall, if the Nuclear Regulatory Power Bill that is being considered by Parliament becomes law. The nuclear power plant is at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.
When Ghana’s nuclear power plant starts producing electricity, the country will be second in Africa, after South Africa, to harness nuclear energy for industrial, commercial and domestic use.
Ghana’s deputy energy minister Alhaji Fuseini noted that although nuclear power is one of the options being considered to play a significant role in Ghana’s energy sector, the utilization of nuclear power involves careful planning to address major issues such as financing, siting, safety and human resource development.
“It is expected that in the foreseeable future, this energy option will be introduced into our energy mix to make effective contributions to our development efforts towards the achievement of sustainable energy for all by 2030” he added.
Currently, only 72% of the country’s population has access to mains electricity, two-thirds of which is currently generated by hydro-electric plants.
The many advantages of nuclear energy, especially its cost-effectiveness and efficiency, make the construction of power plants a compelling choice for many countries. According to experts, a kilogramme of uranium, the raw material for the production of nuclear energy, generates 50,000 kilowatts hour (kWh) of electricity as compared to crude oil and coal which produce 4kWh and 3kWh
The non-profit group, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, said the government must not use economic indicators alone to determine the viability of the nuclear project. Peter Amewu, the director of policy and research, said the environmental and social costs of the project should be considered because they could have negative implications for the country.
“Ghana has huge potential for hydrocarbon in terms of gas, huge potential for renewable in terms of solar; why are we not considering these options but just want to consider nuclear from nowhere? – He asked.
Preparations for the take off the country’s programme are far advanced as the Bill has already gone through its first reading in Parliament. Representatives of the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Implementing Organisation (GNPPIO), have met the Parliamentary Select Committees, to make a strong case for the legislative body to pass the Bill before the end of this year.
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Centre (USNRC will examine the regulatory requirements of the site of the proposed power plant in August this year. Earlier, GAEC and the University of Ghana established the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) in 2006 to provide human resources that will run the plant, and ensure the continuous training of competent nuclear scientists.