Ghana should have been operating nuclear power plant long ago and become second country in Africa to operate nuclear power plant after South Africa, the Director General of Ghana’s Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Professor Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko has said.
“To me, with all our hydro resources gone and with urbanization and population growth and energy demand and we want to do a lot of factories. For this to survive, I think one of the options to grow the economy is to go for nuclear power,” he said.
The West African nation’s quest to use nuclear technology for power generation dates back in the 1960’s when the country’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah established the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to spearhead the nuclear agenda.
Unfortunately, the idea became a stillbirth and abandoned until 2008 when a Cabinet decision to include nuclear in the country’s electricity generation mix was taken to help curb the national perennial power crisis.
The government’s bid to provide a solution to the country’s 10-year cycle of power crisis, coupled with the need for an alternative baseload plant, established a nuclear energy programme implementing and coordination body known as the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO).
In accordance with the framework advocated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development, GNPPO developed a three-phase roadmap for Ghana’s initiative.
The country has since 2018 established an Owner/Operator entity, the Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) for its first nuclear power plant and has successfully completed the first phase of the nuclear programme.
NPG will undertake requisite feasibility studies and activities required in the project development and construction phases of the Nuclear Power Programme. Currently, Ghana is at the second phase of the nuclear agenda.
In an exclusive interview with Prof Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarkop on the Nuclear Science Applications and Technology: The Role of GAEC, the GAEC D-G noted that with the support of the Commission, the Volta River Authority and Bui Power Authority, the Nuclear Power Ghana was created as an operator to spearhead the establishment of nuclear power plant in Ghana in the future.
Although he admitted that Ghana has been late as far as its nuclear power plant agenda was concerned, with the creation of Nuclear Power Ghana and its preparedness, Prof Nyarko expressed the hope that the country is nearing its vision of becoming operator of nuclear power plant.
Responding to those opposing the country’s plan to go nuclear because of the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Prof Nyarko explained that the Fukushima incident was caused by Tsunami and earthquake while the Chernobyl incident was caused by human error.
He revealed that despite the Fukushima Daiichi incident, Japan went ahead and built two nuclear power plants because they knew it was cheaper and reliable source of power.
According to him, there has been advancement in nuclear power technologies, stressing that “nobody is building the Chernobyl type of nuclear reactors anymore.”
He said because of the technology, new safety features have been introduced to make current nuclear reactors safer, stating that knowledge has evolved since the nuclear power plants incidents.
Prof Nyarko underscored the need for Ghana to remain focused and pursue the nuclear power agenda despite the risk involved.
“Anyone who fails to take risk never grows. The higher the risk, the more the production,” Prof Nyarko posited.
Clink on the link below to listen to the interview