Apart from nuclear power assuring the supply of cheap and consistent power to spur the nation’s industrialisation agenda, industrial standards would see a significant boost with the construction of a nuclear plant, the Director of Nuclear Power Institute (NPI), Dr. Seth Debrah has said.
According to him, per the masterplan entailed in the Nuclear Power Programme Comprehensive Report currently before cabinet, which is meant to guide building the first nuclear plant, indigenous companies would play a critical role.
He explained that for local companies to be able to fully participate, standards would need to be improved. “We have good standards, but the materials needed for building a nuclear plant cannot just be good – but of certain high global standards which cannot be compromised,” Dr. Debrah told the B&FT.
He added that the volumes and consistent need for the materials is what will trigger a leapfrogging of the nation’s industrial standards. He explained that 600,000 tonnes of cement would be needed over a six-to-seven-year period for building a large nuclear plant; a small modular plant would need 50% of the stated estimate of cement. Also, the supply of aggregate (concrete) for a 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant is about 2,000 cubic metres (m³).
He said there would be a need for 72 hours of consistent pouring on aggregate for building the nuclear base to ensure uniformity in drying and prevent cracks. “There would be no break in this, and there are standards that need to be met; therefore, our industries would have to be engaged to know and plan toward this,” Dr. Debrah said.
For reinforcement (iron rods), 20,000 tonnes would be needed for the project; and they would have to meet a certain global standard as well. According to Dr. Debrah, per some checks, the current steel companies are not able to meet the standards…but a little push by government would help them. For decontamination paint – painting the nuclear plant – 200,000 tonnes of paint would also be needed.
He added that for the few materials cited, they would be needed consistently till completion of the nuclear plant (6-7 years) and the standards that would be required would stay with suppliers even after construction; thereby positioning local companies that would participate to have a competitive edge over similar companies on the continent.
He said apart from the standards, local artisans that would be trained for the project would be transformed. “When you train people to a certain level and they do things in a certain way, it sticks with them. This project would produce artisans of a different breed.”
He intimated that upon completion of the plant it would be difficult to find local companies producing low-quality materials, because for a long period they would stick to a certain standard and be adequately paid for their supplies; so they would have no reason to go back to producing low-quality goods, he said.
“My confidence is born out of the fact that high volumes would be needed, and this would force players in especially cement, steel and paint production to come together to meet the demand; they all have to produce at a certain level of standard, and after it would be difficult to depart.”