Amidst the global energy crisis and the push towards achieving net-zero emissions, nuclear energy is experiencing a resurgence.
Countries worldwide are increasing their nuclear energy production, with plans for 104 nuclear reactors and over 300 more in the proposal stage.
The rise in investments in nuclear power plants has caused uranium prices to increase, surpassing Ksh.6,361 ($50) per pound.
China and Russia are at the forefront of domestic and international nuclear energy expansion, but the US is taking steps to bolster its nuclear energy sector.
Nuclear Power Plants in Africa
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the only source of the mineral in Africa, which once refined can be used in reactors to generate electricity or in making bombs.
DRC has extensive deposits of high-grade uranium ore. It is mined in the Katanga province by foreign firms.
South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power station is the only nuclear power plant on the continent. It has an installed capacity of 1,940 megawatts, and is owned and operated by state-run power utility Eskom.
Egypt has the project underway since July 2022 following the official launch.
The Ksh.3.1 trillion ($25 billion) project being developed by Russian state energy corporation Rosatom, will have total installed capacity of 4.8 gigawatts (GW) made up of four, 1,200 megawatt reactors, when complete.
Kenya aims to have its first nuclear power plant up and running by the year 2038 to cater to the growing power demand in the country. The project will begin in the year 2030 and is expected to cost Ksh.6.3 billion.
According to the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), formerly known as Kenya Nuclear Energy Board (KNEB), the mooted nuclear power plant of 1,000 megawatts reactor is to be commissioned by the year 2038.
“As a country, we have acknowledged the potential benefits of adopting nuclear power and have taken the policy decision to include it as a technology option in our national energy policy,” said Justus Wabuyabo, Director of Legal and Regulatory Services and Corporation Secretary, NuPEA.
Kilifi and Kwale counties have been earmarked for nuclear power plant construction in Kenya. Other countries that eye the plant by the reviewed period are Tunisia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius among others.
What is the importance of nuclear energy?
According to Statista, nuclear power is essential for the global energy mix with 440 plants operating in 33 countries, supplying 10 percent of the world’s electricity.
It complements renewables by providing consistent energy production over 90 percent of the time, in contrast to wind and solar power.
It produces far fewer CO2 emissions than renewables, with 75 percent less than solar power and 50 percent less than hydropower.