Ghana seeks urgent nuclear aid to reduce dependence on coal.

Ghana, a country facing increasing electricity demand and limited power sources, is appealing to developed nations with established nuclear industries to provide assistance in building its own nuclear infrastructure.

The Director of the Nuclear Power Institute, Professor Seth Debrah, emphasised the urgency of this request, warning that Ghana may have no choice but to resort to coal if nuclear support is not received promptly.

His call, also supported by many others, was made during the first day interactions at the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology study tour at the Idaho National laboratory in the United States of America.

Established around the same time as the Idaho National Laboratory, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has been exploring nuclear energy options since the 1960s.

However, the need to pursue nuclear power has become even more critical now, as the demand for electricity in Ghana continues to grow at an annual average of 5-8%.

With approximately 64% of the country’s hydro resources already exploited, Ghana’s primary source of affordable power is becoming limited.

Over the years, the energy generation mix has shifted significantly, with thermal power surpassing hydroelectricity.

In 1990, hydro accounted for 86% of Ghana’s electricity generation, while thermal contributed only 14%.

However, the current scenario sees thermal power taking the lead, with over 60%, while hydroelectricity drops to less than 40%.

This shift towards thermal power has resulted in higher electricity tariffs, as thermal power generation tends to be more expensive than hydroelectricity.

By investing in nuclear power, Ghana aims to address this issue and provide a more affordable and sustainable energy source for its citizens.

Additionally, a nuclear plant has the potential to facilitate large-scale desalination of water, thereby improving access to clean water across the country.

Edward Obeng-Kenzo, Deputy Chief Executive (Engineering & Operations) of VRA, supported the call for nuclear assistance, highlighting that by 2027, Ghana’s installed capacity will be fully utilized.

Without additional power plants, the country will struggle to meet its own needs, let alone fulfil the power requirements of neighbouring countries like the Ivory Coast.

Currently stretched to its limits, Ghana’s ability to supply power to other African nations is severely constrained. The support of developed nations, particularly the United States, is seen as crucial in expediting Ghana’s access to nuclear technology.

If nuclear assistance does not materialize in a timely manner, Ghana may be forced to turn to crude oil as a fuel source to power its plants. Even natural gas (LNG), which has been a significant energy source for the country, has become increasingly expensive.

In the meantime, Ghana has already completed preparations for a clean 750-megawatt coal plant, highlighting the pressing need for alternative solutions.

The development of nuclear power in Ghana would not only enhance the country’s energy security but also contribute to regional stability by providing reliable electricity supply to neighbouring nations.

The urgency of Ghana’s call for nuclear assistance underscores the critical role that international collaboration plays in supporting the transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy options in developing countries.

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