By Udeme Akpan
Canadian Company, StarCore Nuclear Inc. has proposed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the rollout of 23 small modular reactors (SMRs) nuclear power stations to help provide electricity supply which will be accessible to millions of Nigerians who currently have unreliable or no access to electricity .
In an email to Sweetcrude, the company stated: ‘’Per head of population, Nigeria is one of the least-electrified nations and the current system is struggling to keep up with the demand for electricity by its 170 million people and growing day by day. ‘’The StarCore Nuclear proposal will especially benefit the more remote areas of the country where the grid infrastructure is less reliable compared with those close to the state capital cities.
‘’The proposal comprises the erection of 23 micro grids across the more remote regions of the country thus minimising, or even eliminating, the expenditure that the government will need to make on electricity infrastructure in those target areas.
‘’The StarCore Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) design is inherently safe, as judged by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which means it cannot overheat and would shut down automatically when there is a problem in operation given that the plant is fully automated.
‘’Furthermore, the plant is passively secure and as a result it is extremely hard to damage by force, sabotage or terrorism. It is gas cooled so it does not need water for cooling – important for the remote parts of Nigeria and is cheaper than the existing off-grid or edge-of-grid power and can match or lower many on-grid power prices.
‘’Other advantages are that it can also provide carbon-free electricity, heat energy for industries which would otherwise require burning fossil fuel, and abundant purified water for irrigation and those people without clean water sources.”
It stated: ‘’This plant measures only 30m wide by 60-100m long and is set within a site area of 5-10acres with almost no boundaries between the plant and public infrastructure.
‘’Best of all, however, is the build-own-license-operate-refuel-decommission business model which means no capital outlay by the Nigerian government or imposition of financial burden on the tax payers.
‘’StarCore is a full life cycle manager and does not sell the plants or technology. Instead the company will negotiate a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for electricity off take.
‘’This project has tremendous benefits for those in remote communities by contributing to improvements in health and education as well as potential job creation. By providing energy for new industries in those areas, it will bring an unprecedented level of economic prosperity and stability to the country.
‘’It is understood that StarCore representatives have initiated contacts with the Presidency in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital and have met with the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr.Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), including the top government officials from the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), and Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA). The proposal has met their approval in principle.
‘’The next step is to obtain Ministerial Consent by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. ‘Kemi Adeosun to issue the requisite Federal Government Sovereign Guarantee and Direct Pay Letter of Credit which serves as hedge against political risks on the foreign investment funds. This guarantee from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is then endorsed by the CBN international correspondent bank.
‘’Ideally, the sovereign guarantee will enable the international funding experts the Lucot Group Inc. to secure funds which would be rolled out over 5 years and is utilized for the development of StarCore Nuclear modular power stations across the country. Lucot Group, a Monaco based International Infrastructure Investment funding giant, has assisted governments in Africa to obtain funding for execution of nationally significant infrastructure projects under similar arrangements, the most recent being with the government of Cameroon.
‘’With these arrangements in place, President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise in his 2015 election campaign to generate 10,000MW of electricity by 2019 would shift a step closer to reality and hitherto, would bring jobs and industries to Nigerians, especially people in the remote parts of the country.”