Four countries sign on Kenya’s nuclear energy plans

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Four countries have signed memoranda of understanding with Kenya to help the latter wade through plans to establish nuclear power plants.

Russia, China, South Korea and Slovakia have all signed pacts that will see them assist Kenya in build capacity to set up its first Sh500 billion nuclear plant from 2022.

“We want to make sure that we have the right human resource capacity, public awareness and proper regulations to enable us smoothly adopt this energy source. That is why we are investing in informative studies and benchmarking to ensure that there is proper stakeholder engagements and extensive consultations in this field,” said Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) acting chief executive Collins Juma on Tuesday.

He was speaking during opening of the Kenya Nuclear Energy Week and Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

The summit, which concludes tomorrow, will see various stakeholders deliberate the country’s preparedness to venture into nuclear energy generation, the concerns, risks and benefits.

Nuclear generating companies from Russia, China and Korea are showcasing various technologies used to generate nuclear energy with each angling for the Sh2 trillion power project expected in the next decade.

France recently joined the list of countries courting Kenya for a multi-billion-dollar deal to build a nuclear power plant, which will also be first in East Africa.

Kenya’s first reactor will have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW), which is equivalent to 42 per cent of the country’s current installed electricity capacity.

KNEB plans to put up at least four nuke plants with a total output of 4,000 MW by the time of completion– at an estimated cost of Sh2 trillion.

The board reckons that despite the heavy upfront costs, nuclear energy is effective in meeting the country’s minimum power demand, technically known as base load.

Russian-based Rosaton — which has been engaged in nuclear power generation for 60 years — is showcasing its water moderated water cooled reactors (VVER) technology used currently in 56 reactors across the world.

The technology is largely deployed by nuclear icebreakers and is said to be highly self-reliant in waste management.

China on the other hand is displaying its third generation Hua-long Pressurised reactor (HPR100 reactor). The 30-year old technology is said to be disaster resistant and economically efficient to establish and run.