IAEA says nuclear power will help ease Kenya's energy shortages

GMT 01:35 2016 Friday ,22 April

Arab Today, arab today IAEA says nuclear power will help ease Kenya's energy shortages

The IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov
Nairobi - XINHUA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday called on Kenya to use nuclear power to ease energy shortages and speed up economic development.

The IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov also said the East African nation's nuclear programme was on the right track.

"Kenya should utilize nuclear power for it to become a middle-income country in the future," Chudakov told journalists in Nairobi when he presented the agency's report to the Kenya government.

The report which came after the agency's comprehensive assessment in the country, known as the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review, indicates that the country has made advances, such as conducting a prefeasibility study.

The study addressed the 19 main issues considered in a nuclear power program ranging from funding, safety and security, stakeholder and industrial involvement, human resource development, legislative and regulatory framework, electric grid, nuclear power plant site and supporting facilities, radiation protection and radioactive waste , among others.

"Kenya has given thorough consideration to the infrastructure that will be necessary should the country decide to proceed with the development of a national nuclear power programme," Chudakov said.

The report comes after the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) and the China General Nuclear Power Corporation signed a partnership agreement in 2015 on cooperation for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the East African nation.

Under the deal reached between the two parties, Kenya will obtain expertise from China by way of training and skills development, technical support in areas such as site selection for Kenya's nuclear power plants and feasibility studies including safety analysis and environmental impact assessment.

In addition, Kenya will obtain firsthand knowledge of China's nuclear power technology. Kenya has previously signed agreements on nuclear power cooperation with Slovakia and South Korea.

The East African nation plans to set up a first nuclear power plant with a capacity of 1,000 MW by 2027.

This is expected to rise to a total of 4,000 MW by 2033, making nuclear electricity a key component of the country's energy mix which is projected to be about 19,000MW in total. Kenya currently has an installed capacity of 2,300 MW.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said his ministry was in discussion with the relevant institutions, including Parliament, to ensure that the KNEB receives adequate funding.

"Let me reiterate the ministry's unwavering support and encouragement for the nuclear power programme," Keter said.

"This report gives us the impetus to proceed toward the next stages and gives the government a good framework of the actions and issues requiring further development," he added.

The planning for nuclear power began in earnest in 2012, under the stewardship of the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board, and the review conducted by the IAEA late last year offers the best barometer of the progress to date.

"Kenyans do not fear nuclear power, especially since it can have a very positive impact on tariffs. What they fear is safety concerns that can be allayed by public sensitization," Kenya's Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu said.

The report highlights some key areas where Kenya should place emphasis going forward.

These include nurturing a robust regulatory framework, including the establishment of a regulator for nuclear energy. It also highlights the development of legislation, human and institutional capacity building through training and skills development.

The IAEA also recommends that Kenya complete site selection activities to identify suitable locations for nuclear power plants.

It further points to the need for the development of plans and processes to assist future organizations required in a nuclear power programme.

The 8-day assessment mission to review infrastructure development for a new nuclear power programme in Kenya, The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review, was carried out at the invitation of the Kenyan government in August 2015, as the country is considering the introduction of nuclear power to meet its growing energy demand.

The energy ministry has proposed the use of nuclear energy for power generation and established the KNEB to undertake preparatory activities towards the development and implementation of the country's nuclear power programme.

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