FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - NUCLEAR POWER
In order to realize the development agenda stipulated in Kenya Vision 2030, studies have shown that the country will require more than 17,000 MW of electricity by 2030. Currently the country is generating more than 2300MW from various energy sources including hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind. Under the 5000MW plus initiative, coal and gas will be tapped alongside geothermal and wind. This will raise the country’s generation capacity to almost 7000MW by 2017. Be that as it may, the country would still have a deficit even if all the domestic energy resources such as geothermal were fully exploited. Thus the country would need alternative sources to help realize Vision 2030. Based on these premises, nuclear energy has been identified as a stable, efficient and reliable source of electricity that will produce base load power to steer industrial development, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and above all, better the lives and lot of Kenyans.
Studies have demonstrated that it is cheaper to generate electricity from nuclear energy than from crude oil. The crude oil discovered in Turkana will be more economical for export and foreign exchange earnings than for generating electricity locally.
Why are developed countries such as Germany phasing out nuclear reactors yet Kenya are is considering introducing nuclear power?
Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011, Germany decided to accelerate its phasing out of nuclear power by 2022. Subsequently, reactors that started operation in 1980 or earlier were shut down. However, the decision was not based on any safety assessment. If Germany were to proceed with its nuclear phase-out policy and maintain carbon emission reduction, it would need to import about 20,000 MW of electricity as base load by 2020. Following this nuclear policy, France, Poland and Russia are anticipating increased electricity exports to Germany, mostly from nuclear energy.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was an eye opener to nuclear industry players with regard to occurrence of nuclear accidents. Although it was a unique situation, the accident has led to further scrutiny of nuclear facilities thereby decreasing the chances of nuclear accidents occurring around the world. Current reactor designs have enhanced safety features. This, coupled with stringent regulations, has greatly diminished the probability of such accidents.
The nuclear power programme will create jobs locally both directly and indirectly. Human resource planning shows that over 5,000 workers will be directly involved in design, siting, bidding and construction of the nuclear power plant, majority of whom will be drawn from the local labour pool. Other jobs will be created in affiliated institutions such as the regulatory body, research institutes and nuclear training centres. Indirectly, it is expected that increase in power generation capacity will trigger industrial growth therefore creating more job opportunities for local people.
A country can purchase low enriched uranium fuel from international suppliers. Currently, IAEA is in the process of establishing a uranium fuel bank. This is meant to increase assurance of fuel supply and give more options for countries interested in peaceful use of nuclear energy like Kenya.
Supply of spare parts is specified during the bidding process. Contractual negotiations with the successful bidder should include supply of reactor components and maintenance services by the vendor during the operating lifetime of the nuclear power plant.
According to the classification adopted by IAEA, small modular reactors have an electric power output of less than 300 MW; medium sized reactors have an electric power output of between 300 and 700 MW; and large reactors have an electric power output of between 700 and 1,700 MW.
Yes. Kenya will use internationally acceptable criteria for reactor technology assessment; Common User Considerations (CUC) and Utility Requirements Design (URD), which will define the country’s considerations for the reactor type. A nuclear reactor supplier will be required to meet the considerations before concluding contract negotiations. This will ensure that the country gets a suitable nuclear reactor for its power plant.
Nuclear power is environment-friendly. It is among the lowest carbon dioxide emitters when emissions throughout the entire life cycle are considered.
Nuclear power contributes to energy supply security. Currently known and reported resources and reserves of uranium are found in a number of countries across six continents. Moreover, compared with fossil fuels, the small volume of nuclear fuel required to run a reactor makes it easier to establish strategic inventories.
Nuclear power is economically competitive. Nuclear power plants are relatively expensive to build but relatively inexpensive to operate. Moreover, the low share of uranium costs in total generating costs means that significant volatility in uranium costs results in only minor volatility in generating costs.
Currently, there are 438 nuclear power reactors in operation worldwide with a total installed capacity of 374,301MW, and 71 nuclear power reactors under construction. Many countries with existing nuclear power programs (Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Rep., France, India, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, South Africa, Ukraine, UK, USA) have plans to build new power reactors (beyond those now under construction). The industry is also experiencing a boon of newcomer countries that have expressed an intention to embark on nuclear power programmes. Kenya is among those nations that also include Turkey, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Uganda and Tanzania. The United Arab Emirates, despite its oil resources, is currently building nuclear power plants.