The Executive Chairman of the Nuclear Electricity Development Project Ochillo Ayacko said the government plans to spend Sh141 million on the study to determine the site to build the country’s first nuclear power plant.
“The pre-feasibility study is a study on 19 infrastructural issues and it has to be conducted everywhere in the country,” he said.
“We want to see the size of our grid and market to determine the potential of the counties that are likely to host a nuclear power plant, and this can only be done from a national study,” he explained.
Ayacko stated that the government will fund part of the two-year program and the rest will be paid for by grants from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Programme Management Officer for Technical Cooperation at the IAEA Thabisile Moleah acknowledged that Kenya still has to fulfill many of the 19 milestones required for the development of a national infrastructure for nuclear power.
“We have to develop the initial trained human resource capacity, institutional capacity and the legal regulatory framework for implementing the nuclear power programme in Kenya,” she emphasised.
Experts from IAEA will assist Kenya with the pre-feasibility study and also develop capacity to undertake power development planning through expert missions and local training workshops.
Moleah said that the objective of the study is to assess the current status of development of the national infrastructure against the requirements and guidelines recommended by the IAEA and to propose measures for further development when the comprehensive report on self-assessment of Kenya’s nuclear infrastructure status is adopted.
“Thorough scientific studies will have to be done before the decision is made on where the nuclear power plant will be,” she said.
“We have sent two experts to this country from the IAEA who will sit with the competent authorities to work on the total energy planning using special IAEA tools which help determine how nuclear power can be used as part of the energy mix,” she added.
She stressed that nuclear power will not be a stand-alone energy source; rather it will compliment other sources such as hydrothermal, solar and wind energy.
Moleah noted that nuclear energy is attractive because it’s the best way to produce safe, clean and reliable base load electricity, while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.
Power demand in Kenya has consistently been growing at an average of eight percent per annum over the last five years and the power load is expected to grow at an average of 14 percent per annum over the next 20 years driven by high economic growth rates.
Vision 2030 development projects will increase the country’s demand on energy and Ayacko announced that the first nuclear plant of 1,000 Megawatts (MW) is expected to be commissioned in 2022, with three more plants commissioned thereafter to produce a total of 4,000MW by 2031.
“It’s projected that by the year 2030, the total installed capacity of energy in Kenya will be between 19,000 MW to 20,000 MW and to reach that number we must fully exploit geothermal, wind, nuclear and other ways of generating power,” he said.
“We need to diversify the sources of power generation to ensure a stable and affordable power supply in the country,” he declared.