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Kenya seeks nuclear power

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 20 – The Ministry of Energy has formed the Nuclear Electricity Project Committee charged with developing nuclear power for the country.

The move comes as the government strives to look for green, reliable and affordable electricity.

Besides coming up with a roadmap on the project, including the timelines for atomic energy agency’s approvals, it is expected to oversee preparation and implementation of a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.

The thirteen-member committee (made up of mostly academic professors) will also review and approve a capacity-building plan targeting young Kenyans with degrees, especially in engineering and mathematics, for purposes of nuclear research and development.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said nuclear power is important for the country as it commands the highest economic merit and value proposition in terms of production and transmission.

“The government has decided to embark on nuclear electricity generation because our country has continued to face chronic power shortages and high consumer tariffs due to reliance on costly oil based thermal generation and unreliable hydro power,” Mr Murungi told reporters on Monday.

The production of 1,000 Megawatts of nuclear energy is estimated at $3.5 billion (Sh287.7 billion) at a tariff of 6.84 US cents per kilowatt hour.

This compares favorably with the $5 billion at 8.4 US cents per kilowatt-hour required for geothermal production and $2 billion at 9.54 US cents per kilowatt-hour for coal.

Mr Kiraitu revealed that the ministry was considering letting the Nuclear Electricity Project Committee to operate with little government intervention.

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“The government is ready to give the committee its full support and it could even operate outside normal ministry protocol to ensure we get nuclear power,” he said.

The first task for the committee will be to conduct extensive countrywide civic education to get people to accept the concept.

The Ministry of Energy has already designated Sh300 million for the committee to develop a detailed road map for nuclear energy production.

The country is targeting to produce at least 7,000MW from nuclear sources by 2030.

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