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Ghana on course to having nuclear power

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Prof. J. B. Nyarko (left), Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), briefing Mr William Aidoo (2nd left), a Deputy Minister of Energy and his entourage during a visit to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). Picture: Maxwell Ocloo
Prof. J. B. Nyarko (left), Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), briefing Mr William Aidoo (2nd left), a Deputy Minister of Energy and his entourage during a visit to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is at the point of completing the first phase of the International Energy Agency (IEA) requirements towards the establishment of a nuclear power plant to add nuclear power to the country's energy mix.

The Director-General of the Commission, Professor Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, who made this known in Accra yesterday, said documentation, legal framework and other preparatory works were in place for the country to exit phase one of the IEA milestone for the plant next year.

Prof. Nyarko said this when he briefed the Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr William Owuraku Aidoo, when the latter paid a working visit to GAEC to acquaint himself with the work being done by the commission on the nuclear power plant project.

Nuclear energy in Ghana

Ghana's nuclear power journey started in the 1960s when the first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, established the GAEC to undertake nuclear applications and also generate electricity.

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Activities at the commission stalled when he was overthrown in the 1966 military coup.

After decades of back and forth, actual development works on the nuclear power plant started in 2008 when a working document was approved by the Cabinet for the nuclear agenda.

It was further consolidated in 2015 in line with IEA standards and requirements, necessitating the putting in place of preparatory works in the first phase.

The IEA requirements for the establishment of the plant also mandated the setting up of a nuclear regulatory authority, getting an owner operator and the eventual establishment of the plant.

Minister’s tour

Prof. Nyarko said a nuclear regulatory authority had already been set up, while a body, known as Nuclear Power Ghana, made up of technocrats, had also been constituted to facilitate the initial process for owner operator for the nuclear power plant.

"The next crucial stage is having a site for the establishment of the nuclear power plant and I can say here that some people are on the field doing characterisation for us to get the site for the plant,” he said.

“The actual construction of the plant takes six years but the exiting of phase one of the project, which is the longest milestone, will be a major boost to the forward march towards getting the nuclear plant," he added.

Assurance

Mr Aidoo lauded the efforts being made by the GAEC to help the country realise the dream of setting up the nuclear plant.

He stressed that the government would do all within its means to facilitate the setting up of the plant to help diversify the country's energy mix.

"It is good to have varied energy mix so that we are not caught wanted, so we are not waiting until things get out of hand before we start to explore nuclear energy," he said.

Mr Aidoo dispelled the notion held by a section of the public that a nuclear plant would pose serious threats to the country.

He said the safety and security measures that came with the operation of nuclear power plants ensured that there were no such dangers to the public.