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Kenya forges ahead with plan to invest in nuclear energy

BUSINESS
By By MACHARIA KAMAU | May 22nd 2014 | 2 min read
By By MACHARIA KAMAU | May 22nd 2014
BUSINESS

By MACHARIA  KAMAU

The body charged with development of nuclear electricity in the country is planning a study on the national electricity grid to establish its compatibility with nuclear electricity.

The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) yesterday said it was looking for a consultant that would 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,” said KNEB in a statement.

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.

The Ochilo Ayacko-led board is also pushing for local content in the process of developing nuclear electricity in the country.

Requirements it has set for the consultant include having a team composed of both local and foreign experts for the study.

Power demand

KNEB expects nuclear electricity to play a critical part in meeting power demand, which has been projected to hit 15,000 megawatts over the next 16 years, from the current 1,400MW.

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 megawatts (mw) nuclear plant at $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.

Kenya’s electricity infrastructure is used for the evacuation of electricity generated through hydro, geothermal, wind and diesel fired thermal sources. Coal and natural gas are expected to form part of the electricity generation mix in the coming years.

“The annual demand 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 000mw by 2030,” said KNEB.

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