August 1, 2022

Energy crisis: Nigeria not ripe for nuclear power plant —experts

nuclear power plant

Nuclear power Plant


By Obas Esiedesa, ABUJA

Despite the power supply challenge facing the country, a move towards setting up a nuclear power plant has been discouraged by energy experts who cited Nigeria’s poor maintenance culture and insecurity as reasons.

Speaking at Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja which focused on nuclear power plants as an option for the country, the experts said Nigeria should concentrate on expanding the national grid to efficiently transmit and distribute the 13,000 Megawatts installed capacity available in the country.

The national grid currently has the capacity to transmit about 5,500MW. Nigeria plans to set up a 1,000MW nuclear power plant with Kogi and Akwa Ibom States selected as possible sites.

The former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi who spoke on the panel pointed out that while it was good to look into the future and find options that will increase the energy mix, a nuclear power plant was not the way to go at the moment.

“On paper, this is very good because it helps us to boost our energy capacity. Another attraction is that if you are talking about clean energy sources, apart from wind, nuclear is the cleanest because the process through nuclear fusion has very low impact on the environment.

“It is also cheap, which is important from a regulator’s perspective, if you want an energy mix that will cheapen the cost of energy. It is cheaper than fossil fuel and for people, who are keen about electricity circuits, it has a bigger load base and so you build industrial activity around a nuclear based power plant”.

Dr. Amadi however raised three concerns which include environmental risk regarding level of culture and professionalism in project management in Nigeria, transmission and distribution capacity of the electricity market, and the global politics of nuclear energy which seems to make it vulnerable.

Also speaking on the panel, Ifeoma Malo noted that while a nuclear plant is a clean source of energy, the question for Nigeria would be if it is a realistic option for the country in terms of the global push for energy transition.

She pointed out that issues about safety, the environmental hazards and on-going insecurity in the country make it a dangerous option for Nigeria.

However, in his contribution, the Director, Nuclear Power Plant Development, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, Prof. Abdullahi Mati explained that the strict management and regulation around nuclear plants made it the safest in the industry.

Prof. Mati noted that Nigeria’s quest for a nuclear power plant started in 1976, assuring that though it has faced delays and challenges, it is still on track.

In his contribution, Mr. Emeka Okpukpara, Partner, Nextier Power, observed that though a lot of focus was on gas fueled powered and hydro power plants, a nuclear plant was an option that should be discussed.  He noted however that current culture and attitudes in the country do not support such a project, it remains on the table and part of a possible source of energy for the country in the future.