The government’s plan to have a nuclear plant up and running in Kenya within the next 12-15 years is still on course, Energy Principal Secretary Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge has confirmed.
Speaking to Reuters on October 5, PS Njoroge said that the government plans to revert to nuclear energy as an alternative source of energy once it is satisfied that it has fully exploited other sources.
“The plant may be ready in the next 12 or even 15 years. The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) is working towards ensuring that the goal has been achieved,” he said.
According to the PS, Kenya still has an energy deficit with hydropower contributing 35% to the national grid while geothermal power, wind and heavy oil plants accounting for the rest.
Speaking at a consumer forum on December 6, 2017, KNEB’s technical advisor Edwin Chesire had projected that construction of the plant would begin in 2024 and be completed in 2027.
Setting up of a nuclear plant however comes with its own baggage.
The project is capital intensive investment and also requires a raft of policies to be drawn up to guide radioactive waste management as well as industrial involvement.
The cabinet in March approved the Nuclear Regulatory Bill. The bill has yet to be debated in Parliament.
The bill seeks to establish The Nuclear Energy Authority which will regulate the sector. The government plans to have the authority fully constituted by 2019.
Among the locations identified for the initial plant include areas around Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and along the Kenyan Coast.
Reports indicate that the plans to build the plant might have been catalyzed as an alternative to the delayed coal energy project.
A lawsuit filed by activist Okiya Omtata has delayed commencement of construction of the 1,050-megawatt coal plant in Lamu.
Mr. Omtata has sued AMU Power, a special purpose project company owned by American conglomerate General Electric (GE) and Centum Investments, citing environmental concerns if the project is allowed to proceed.
AMU however maintains that the plant will be producing clean coal.