Energy Minister-designate, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has confirmed government’s thirst to add nuclear energy into its power mix to help propel economic growth.
According to him, the stage for nuclear energy has been set over the decades and the most important juncture the nation finds itself is to select a vendor that it would partner to build its nuclear plants.
A vendor partner would be the country Ghana will approve to build the first nuclear plant on its soil. Russia, China, Korea, France, Czech Republic, and USA are among the many countries the country can partner as a vendor.
This process 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.
Speaking during his vetting, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said: “The government of the Republic Ghana since 2000 has promoted or pushed the agenda of nuclear power. We currently are at a stage where we have gone past the first stage where we have produced a comprehensive plan report. Currently, I have been informed that where we are, we must select a vendor.
“The selection of a vendor will mean so many things; it will decide on the technology and it will decide on the training that we can give to manage the system. The large phase is that the training takes some time, and if you don’t select the vendor clearly and very early it will delay the progress.”
He added that considering the economic vision of the country, “I think we are at a time where we all decide that probably we should try nuclear power, it is the safest and the cleanest energy”.
Nuclear financing is huge and companies that are planning new nuclear units are currently indicating that the total costs (including escalation and financing costs) will be in the range of US$5,500/kW to US$8,100/kW or between US$6billion and US$9billion for each 1,100 MW plant.
The Executive Director of Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), Dr. Steven Amoah, in an interview with the B&FT said nuclear is a long-term project; that is why the nation is taking its time to make the decision.
“The nation is also aware of the energy needs that will be needed to propel the One District, One Factory (1D1F), bauxite going through Valco and Aluworks to produce aluminium plates for the assembling of cars and electronic railways; and the other major infrastructure that will need energy to sustain it.
“These are all long-term, which is why we begin planning today. But to make all these issues simple, we have developed financing models and provided many options that the country can utilise. All these are factored in the Nuclear Power Programme Comprehensive Report.”
Dr. Yamoah added that: “We are projecting into 2030-31; this is enough time to plan and execute. Nuclear is not for firefighting, it is for a long-term development plan.”
The NPG boss intimated that his office is open to educating all stakeholders and the general public on the nation’s nuclear future, and will continue to engage all who have doubts that the nation is taking the best energy security decision.