The number of countries interested in the integrated development of nuclear facilities is increasing.
It’s not only a reliable and clean energy source, but also as an investment in innovative technologies of the future to solve a wide range of issues from water desalination, to treatment of serious diseases by nuclear medicine.
Globally, nuclear power plays an important role in reducing toxic gas emissions.
Today, nuclear reactors generate a third of all low-carbon power, while the share of nuclear power in the global energy mix is 11 per cent.
This should increase to 18 per cent by 2030 and 25 per cent by 2050 to achieve the goals set at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).
Sub-Saharan Africa has sustained strong economic growth in the past 15 years.
To maintain the annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent, the countries must develop power infrastructure.
Since 2000, power consumption has increased by 45 per cent.
The high price of electricity is a major obstacle to improving the living standards of millions of people.
As the power industry develops, there will be higher growth of the middle class, faster urbanisation, increased enterprises output, and the emergence of high-tech agriculture and medicine.
Africa must develop the power industry. Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana plan to come up with a balanced power with new and diverse strategies.
Nuclear power not only ensures the availability of environmentally friendly, reliable and affordable base load power, it also allows the countries to unlock their potential for economic growth.
The World Bank says power outages have reduced the GDP of sub-Saharan countries by 2.1 per cent a year.
Lack of electric power has an impact on the economy.
On average, power supply to industrial enterprises is disrupted 56 days a year, which causes the loss of about six per cent of the profit.
Over 600 million people have limited access to electricity.
In 20 years’ time about 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in countries where nuclear power is well-developed.
The amount of electricity generated worldwide will increase from 400GW to 700GW.
Nuclear power is a cost-effective and has ensured uninterrupted supply for 60 to 80 years at a predictable price, which does not depend on the volatility of global commodity prices.
A well-developed power generation system is capable of promoting as much as 30 per cent economic growth in sub-Saharan countries by 2040, with an increase in national income.
Three key factors should be considered when designing the optimum energy mix: economics, security of supply and environmental impact.
Today, not many sources alone can bring together these three factors.
Hydrocarbons such as coal are economically viable and offer stable power, but have devastating effects on the environment.
Renewable energies such as wind and solar are great to the environment but are intermittent by nature.
Nuclear power has proved to be a reliable, environmentally friendly and affordable source of base load power.
Its operating costs are lower than those of fossil fuels.
Moreover, it is very predictable; the share of fuel component is small compared to its hydrocarbon rivals.
If the price of uranium is doubled, the cost of electricity will increase only by five per cent.
But if the price of gas doubles, the cost of electricity goes up by 70 per cent.
To address the energy challenge, African countries need guaranteed access to affordable clean power.
Prof Kiprop is the leader at the World Bank-funded Africa Centre of Excellence in Phytochemicals, Textile and Renewable Energy and Dean of the School of Biological & Physical Sciences at Moi University, Eldoret. [email protected]