Kenya’s nuclear energy project spills over 2030

A nuclear energy generation plant in France. Kenya’s plan to take this route will take longer following revelations of lengthy approval processes.
 

Photo credit: Philippe Desmazes | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The nuclear power generation plan will now heavily rely on how fast the country will expand its manufacturing sector and encourage establishment of more industries capable of consuming huge levels of power.
  • Nuclear energy, which is capital intensive is billed as among the best base load power sources to power industrial plants and heavy power consumers.

 Kenya’s plan to have a nuclear power plant will now wait beyond the 2030 timeline envisioned when the idea was conceptualised.

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) says lengthy compliance procedures needed before setting up a nuclear power plant will only be ready in 2035, pushing the dream to have the major base load energy source further away.

NuPEA chief executive Collins Juma told Nation that the agency would also prioritise use of smaller nuclear reactors as opposed to a planned single reactor generating 1,000MW as Kenya grows its electricity demand over time.

“We are looking into having those small reactors in phases as we monitor how the country’s electricity demand grows and how the grid is prepared to take the additional energy. They smaller reactors are also cheaper and faster to implement but that will be possible around 2035 or 2036 according to our projections,” Mr Juma said in an interview.

The nuclear power generation plan will now heavily rely on how fast the country will expand its manufacturing sector and encourage establishment of more industries capable of consuming huge levels of power.

Vision 2030 blueprint

Kenya Power has been struggling with depressed demand for electricity generated by its suppliers who have contracts compelling the monopoly to pay for the energy even when it is unable to sell it.

The demand headache has been instrumental in the postponement of future generation plans such as nuclear, which Kenya had first projected to have by 2020 when the Vision 2030 blueprint was first documented in 2008.

Nuclear energy, which is capital intensive is billed as among the best base load power sources to power industrial plants and heavy power consumers.

Such energy plants have useful lives of up to 80 years compared to the other sources, which barely go beyond 30 years but the fears around its potential danger in case of mismanagement has kept many worried about its suitability in Kenya.

Minimal chances

“Its like taking a flight, there are very minimal chances that it will crash and when it does the chances of survival are so slim. We have had this technology for more than 50 years and the few incidents around it have made valuable learning points and various improvements on the technology.

It is also a highly controlled sector and that is even why Kenya is taking longer to comply first before we are even ready to set up the first reactor,” Mr Juma said.

In August, the agency hinted at building a $5 billion (Sh540 billion) nuclear power plant on a site around the coastal region funded by private investors but the small reactors concept is said to be cheaper than the projected amount.

The coast is ideal for the project due to the availability of water for cooling the reactors as well as the lower logistical cost associated with moving the equipment from the port of Mombasa after shipping.

 edokoth@ke.nationmedia.com

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.