GHANA will formally commit to producing electricity from nuclear by the middle of this year and work towards operationalising a first Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) by 2030, a Deputy Minister of Energy Responsible for Finance and Infrastructure, Mr Joseph Cudjoe, has said.
The formal commitment will be taken and announced by Cabinet, Mr Cudjoe told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in an interview.
The national commitment to the nuclear programme would be informed by credible steps that various stakeholders on the matter had so far taken to prepare the way towards actual implementation, he explained.
The deputy minister spoke to the paper after a stakeholder forum on nuclear in Accra organised by the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO).
The organisation was created in 2012 as the government agency to drive the country into nuclear.
A significant milestone to the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme agenda, a successful announcement of a formal commitment to nuclear will end the country’s pussyfoot approach to generating power from the resource.
The overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1996 truncated Ghana’s march to nuclear until 2010 when the resource was officially added to the national energy mix.
Since then, some significant in roots have been made albeit hesitantly to actualise the decades old dream.
The deputy minister explained that in spite of the wait for the formal commitment, the government had tentatively approved of the steps taken by the various stakeholders in that regard.
This explained why the government had formerly given its blessing to the processes and continued to assist the institutions and experts tasked with the responsibility.
On the expected date for the first plant, Mr Cudjoe said the 2030 date was carefully chosen to ensure that nuclear energy did not come on stream at a time the country would not have need for it.
Earlier, the country was aiming at inaugurating a first nuclear power plant in 2026.
“We have excess power today and a lot of power purchase agreements have been signed. Meanwhile, the demand for energy is also growing.
“So, you want to pace the development of the nuclear power plant in such a way that by the time it comes in, it does not come and add to the excess power in the system,” he explained.
Averagely, one standard nuclear plant is capable of producing 2,400 megawatts of power – almost half of the current national installed capacity of 4,132MW, according to data from the Ministry of Energy.
Mr Cudjoe was hopeful that demand strong economic growth and population growth would help raise demand for power, thus helping close the gap between demand and supply.
We won’t falter
The acting Director-General of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Ghana (NRA), Prof. Kwame Abboh, said nuclear was a key ingredient for industrial growth but “if and only if the safety of the facility is assured.
Consequently, he assured Ghanaians that the authority will do all it takes to ensure that the country abide by the safety and security regulations government the process.
“This means that all requirements for safety, security and safeguards shall be demonstrated by the applicant in the submittals they make to the NRA.
“We will like to assure stakeholders here present, outside of this meeting and the international community that the NRA will not shirk its responsibility and will adhere strictly to best practices in the nuclear industry,” he said
“History has taught us lessons where facilities have not complied with regulatory directives and had produced disastrous consequences for humans and the environment. The NRA is poised to discharge its regulatory functions without fear or favour,” he said.
He said the authority’s aim was to address the safety, security and safeguards obligations by instituting an effective regulatory framework.