Nuclear holds key to cheaper electricity amidst tariff hikes

industrial and economic growth
NPG’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Yamoah

Nuclear power could offer electricity consumers much cheaper and reliable power to support industrial and economic growth, says Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG).

Globally, nuclear energy’s average cost of 0.4 euro ¢/kWh in 2021, same as hydro, was only bettered by wind at 0.1 – 0.2 ¢/kWh, according to the World Nuclear Association. Apart from being a much cheaper option, the fuel needs of a nuclear plant, a clean energy source, is less than other conventional generation sources.

“Nuclear all over the world has a low tariff, and all the projections that we have done in terms of the Ghana nuclear project actually point to a lower tariff. It is certainly going to be lower than thermal, even in the early stages of operations.

“So, obviously, nuclear power holds the key to ensuring that there is a reduced tariff for power to ensure industrial and economic growth,” said NPG’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Yamoah, adding: “That is a fact, and it is one of the reasons nuclear is needed in our power mix.”

Dr. Yamoah spoke to the B&FT in Accra on the sidelines of NPG management engagement with Bui Power Authority.

Currently, all major players in the electricity value chain – including Electricity Company of Ghana, Volta River Authority, and Ghana Grid Company Limited, among others – are pushing for an increased tariff of 148 percent, 37 percent and 48 percent respectively, despite the country already having one of the highest electricity tariffs in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Association of Ghana Industries.

If approved by the Public Utilities Commission, it is feared the electricity burden on consumers, particularly manufacturers, could make them grossly uncompetitive within the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

However, Dr. Yamoah – whose outfit is leading the country’s bid to build its first nuclear power plant, having met all international requirements – believes that a nuclear plant would spur industrial and economic development since it will provide reliable and cheaper electricity.

“Looking at our energy base and with the quest to industrialise, we need an energy option that provides us with a reliable and affordable baseload; and looking at the options available, nuclear is the most viable option.

“So, the advantage of nuclear to our industrial aspirations is the reliability and affordability of the power that nuclear would bring to the system. So yes, I can put my feet on it and say that nuclear in the mix will reduce industrial tariffs,” he stated.

Explaining how nuclear power could impact electricity tariffs, which is usually an aggregate from various generators, he said the more generators with lower tariffs, the less the final aggregate tariff.

He added that: “The country can also take a decision that because nuclear comes with a reliable and affordable tariff, we can dedicate a percentage of the power from nuclear for industry – and that will make our industries more productive and competitive.”

Doing this, he reiterated, could also bring about much lower tariffs to support industrialisation.

More importantly, Dr. Yamoah said Ghana, as part of global concerted efforts to transition from fossils, cannot ignore nuclear if it is to meet the target of reducing global warming.

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