03 July 2013, Accra – Ghana’s consideration of nuclear energy as a viable option has received a major boost last week following intense discussions between the State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia -ROSATOM- and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, on the specifics of joint projects facilitating the implementation of plans by Ghana to develop a nuclear industry.
According to the Minister for Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, the discussions now pave the way for the legal teams of both entities to put together a final memorandum of understanding (MoU) for real work to take off.
The move is a follow up to a MoU signed between the Ministry and ROSATOM last year in which the parties agreed to establish a bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The Minister, who took part in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in 21st Century in Russia from June 27 to 29, 2013, of which sidelines the discussions took place, said Ghana is committed to considering Nuclear energy as a viable option in power generation and is putting the necessary measures in place to ensure the realization of that goal.
He observed that the increasing demand for power in the country called for accelerated measures to venture into nuclear power, adding that the time has come for critical consideration of this option.
He said if the country is to achieve higher middle income status, it needed cheap and clean energy to power its developing industries.
“With the development of a legal and regulatory framework, site assessment and determination, as well as the finalization of techno-economic assessment and financing process which will begin this year, we are getting ready towards the construction of the first Nuclear Power Plant in Ghana”, Mr Buah said.
He indicated that Ghana’s quest to utilize nuclear power for electricity generation dates as far back as the early 1960s when the nation decided in 1964 to build a two megawatts Soviet research reactor.
The nuclear programme did not however progress as expected due mainly to political and economic factors.
In 2008, the government took a cabinet decision to introduce nuclear power into the country’s energy mix following the recommendations made by a Presidential Commission when the country was hit by an energy crisis from mid-2006 to late 2007.
Following this, a nuclear power planning project was initiated in 2009 in collaboration with the IAEA leading to the establishment of a nuclear power unit at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in 2012 and the inauguration of eight technical groups in the same year to deal with all the issues associated with the planning and implementation of nuclear power programme in the country.
Currently, all necessary certifications have been obtained from the IAEA and the development of a legal and regulatory framework, site assessment and determination, as well as the finalization of techno-economic assessment and financing process is in progress as part of preparations towards the construction of the first Nuclear Power Plant in Ghana.
Ghana’s Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organization (NEPIO), called the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organization (GNPPO), was inaugurated in September last year forming part of the first milestones required by the IAEA.
Also, a Bill on the establishment of an autonomous regulatory body, another prerequisite for the operating a Nuclear Power Plant, has been sent to parliament for approval.
*Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, The Chronicle