Kenya is edging closer to marking a milestone in generation of nuclear energy after concluding the process of analysis and selection of potential sites.
The process is the first of the three stages to be carried out by the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), which is mandated to fast-track implementation and establish additional 1,000 megawatt (MW) plants in the next eight years.
Initial plans have indicated that locations around Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and the Indian Ocean have been earmarked as potential sites due to their sustainable water sources.
The large water bodies are selected due to the huge amounts of the resource required for cooling reactors.
KNEB chief executive officer Collins Juma said the board is currently conducting a screening exercise for potential sites identified to come up with candidate locations as they expedite development of nuclear electricity in Kenya.
“The board is in the process of selecting a qualified firm to develop terms of reference for site characterisation for nuclear power plants in Kenya after it closed international tender notice,” he said during a stakeholders’ dialogue forum in Kisumu.
He pointed out that the scope of work for the consultancy shall also include spelling out of a comprehensive description of all activities to be undertaken during site characterisation.
A consultancy team is expected to comprise a multi-disciplinary team of experts who have expertise in earth sciences, civil/geotechnical/nuclear engineers, environmental specialists and meteology experts registered by their relevant accredited professional bodies.
Completion of screening of potential sites will give way to the third and last phase, which involves comparison of the candidate locations to come up with the proposed site,
“The best candidate sites will then be subjected to a weighted analysis and the best two will be designated as ‘proposed site’ and ‘alternate site’.
Reliability and safety
Mr Juma assured Kenyans of the reliability and safety of nuclear electricity, adding that they have signed pacts with Russia, China and South Korea as they eye to begin construction of Kenya’s first nuclear power plant by 2024.
“Operation of a nuclear plant does not have adverse effects to humans and the environment. Kenya has identified the global safety requirements for the set-up and receiving global support,” he said.
In order to realise the development agenda stipulated in Kenya Vision 2030, said KNEB technical officer Edwin Chesire, studies have shown that the country will require more than 16,000MW of electricity.
Currently, Kenya is generating more than 2,300MW from various energy sources including hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind.
“Under the 500MW plus initiative, coal and gas will be tapped alongside geothermal and wind,” added Mr Chesire.
He said Kenya is on track to generate nuclear electricity by 2027 as they plan to churn out an equivalent of 42 percent of the country’s current installed electricity capacity.
There are currently 438 nuclear power reactors in operation worldwide with a total installed capacity of 374,301MW and 71 nuclear power reactors under construction.
The industry is experiencing a boon of newcomer countries that have expressed intentions to embark on nuclear power programmes.
Other countries include Turkey, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Uganda and the neighbouring Tanzania.