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Friday, 30 May 2014

Kenya progresses along nuclear energy path

The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) is looking for a consultant to undertake a technical evaluation, which would include an analysis of the electric grid requirements to support proposed nuclear power plants. “The proposed grid system study will build on the studies already carried out but with a specific emphasis on the nuclear power plants and is expected to take 12 months,” KNEB says.
The board also expects the consultant to develop plans to improve the current grid, including having a reserve capacity on the grid to support the use of nuclear power plants. KNEB has also set requirements for the consultant to have a team composed of both local and foreign experts for the study.
KNEB expects nuclear electricity to play a critical part in meeting power demand, which has been projected to hit 15,000 MW over the next 16 years, from the current 1,400 MW.
The board was formed in 2010 and has been exploring possibilities of the country generating electricity using nuclear energy in the long term. It expects to have the first nuclear-fired electricity generation plant by around 2022.
Previous estimates have put the cost of setting up a 1,000 MW nuclear plant at US$3.5 billion. Nuclear energy has been marketed as cleaner and also cheaper, alongside other sources like geothermal, wind and solar.
While it is capital intensive and requires high levels of technical expertise, which is currently scarce in Kenya, it is also cheaper once initial installations are in place. Coal and natural gas are expected to form part of the electricity generation mix in the coming years.
“The growth in annual demand for electricity has reached seven per cent in the past and this will progressively increase to 15 per cent as Vision 2030 projects are implemented. Demand is expected to reach 15 000 MW by 2030,” according to KNEB.
By Kim Jansen