The Executive Director of Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), Dr. Steven Yamoah, has said the time is ripe for the country to seriously focus on its nuclear power agenda for a sustainable, affordable and reliable base-load option for electricity generation to guarantee power for industries and to give hope to the future.
According to him, measures have been put in place leading to the development of relevant bodies and further regulations needed for government to make a “knowledgeable decision” on nuclear power.
Speaking on the second day of the B&FT-organised Ghana Economic Forum on the topic ‘Outlook of Ghana’s Electricity Situation: The Framework to Sustain Industrial Growth’, Dr. Yamoah said that it is well-documented globally that nuclear energy gives the best energy pricing that supports industrialisation.
“With the hope that Ghana’s industrialisation agenda will intensify with the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the time for government to make a firm commitment on its nuclear future is now,” he said.
He noted that all relevant technical considerations for the establishment of a Nuclear Power Programme have been completed – adding that the Nuclear Programme Comprehensive Report (PCR) has also been submitted for Cabinet consideration. The PCR is the nation’s commitment-based document for a knowledgeable commitment to the inclusion of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix.
“The nation’s nuclear programme is structured along the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) milestone approach for nuclear power infrastructure development which led to the setting up of three key organisations: The Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO) as a coordinating and oversight body; Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) as the regulatory body; and Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) as the Owner/Operator organisation. All these are to ensure that the nation is properly prepared to take on the task and deliver according to world standards,” Dr. Yamoah said.
A number of studies have been undertaken to prepare the nation to make a definite commitment. These include the cost and economic rationale for the project, which details the potential macroeconomic benefits the nation will derive from the project; and an estimation of the direct and indirect workforce for the programme has been made.
Also, financing options have been analysed and proposed for project development which factored in radioactive waste management, spent nuclear fuel, and decommissioning of the nuclear plant. An initial financial viability for the project has also been performed, while high-level risk assessments for a nuclear power programme have also been done.
Some national participation studies have also been conducted. These include an initial baseline survey on public perception of the nuclear programme, and a nationwide perception survey is currently underway – its result is expected by the end of the month.
He added that the nation’s industrial infrastructure has been appraised to a level, but additional work is required for local industry participation and involvement. “All these have set the stage for a smooth take-off after government’s commitment is secured.”
Partner with vendor
When government makes a commitment to nuclear energy, it will give the NPG power to represent it and intensify discussions with potential vendors to decide on a vendor partner – the country Ghana will partner to build the first nuclear plant.
This process, Dr. Yamoah noted, will open up conversations on technical and financial arrangements for building the plant, selection of a preferred site, development of a local technical support organisation, and enhancement of regulatory competencies and development among others.
The Director of Renewable and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo – who also delivered a speech at the programme, noted that the nation’s decision to consider nuclear power for the medium- to long-term is entirely based on the economics of achieving lower energy cost as experienced worldwide.
He said the nuclear journey has so far been apolitical. “Ghana’s nuclear power agenda dates back to 1963 when the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission was established with the launch of a 2MW research reactor. However, the decision was suspended till 2008 when a Cabinet decision was taken to include nuclear in the electricity generation mix. Since 2008, all governments in power have shown maximum support and cooperation toward the realisation of this goal.
“The NDC government after taking over from the NPP in 2009 included Nuclear Energy in the National Energy Policy and Strategy, established the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. The NPP government, upon taking over power again in 2017, proceeded to establish the Owner/Operator organisation – Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) – which has been duly registered as a limited liability company for the first Nuclear Power Plant.”
He added that: “Clearly, the nuclear agenda is a top priority for all successive governments toward industrialisation. Any cooperate body, institution or country opposing Ghana’s nuclear agenda is obviously against the industrialisation of Ghana and the sub-region; and for that matter, attainment of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.