Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Energy has said the government is working towards boosting Ghana’s industrialisation with clean and reliable energy systems, such as nuclear and renewables.
He said there was a growing consensus that nuclear energy had an important role in decarbonising electricity generation for accelerated industrial development.
“While renewable energy sources are expected to continue to grow significantly, nuclear power, an important part of today’s clean energy, is also the largest source of lower-carbon electricity generation in advanced economies, providing approximately 40% of all low carbon generations,” he said.
He referred to an International Energy Agency report on clean energy system asserting that without nuclear investment, achieving a sustainable energy system would be much harder with implications to emissions, cost and energy security.
Dr Opoku Prempeh said this in a speech read on his behalf at a stakeholders forum on Ghana’s Nuclear Power programme in Accra.
Under the theme: “Nuclear Energy Innovations: The Future Technologies for Clean Energy and how to drive deep decarbonisation of Ghana’s power sector”, the forum was organised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), in collaboration with Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG).
Dr Opoku Prempeh noted that turning to clean energy systems for electricity generation would also decarbonise other areas, such as transportation, and other environmental pollution activities.
“Within Ghana’s power generation side, issues on consistent demand growth, the high tariff for industries, affordability, reliability, and resilience criteria have brought to the fore the issue of an alternative base-load power,” he said.
“A new nuclear power station does not only generate reliable low carbon electricity but also provides wider social-economic benefits both during its development, construction and the subsequent 60 years that the plant would be in operation,” Dr Opoku Prempeh said.
He recalled that in 2007, former President John Agyekum Kufuor set up a committee, chaired by Professor Daniel Adzei-Bekoe, to explore the possibility of Ghana using nuclear energy as an alternative base-load source of power.
This was around the time that Ghana was faced with supply power challenges.
To sustain the natural progression of the country’s technological energy advancement, he noted, subsequent governments had supported this effort to improve the country’s energy security to provide leadership and resources to facilitate the nuclear power programme.
This has given birth to the NPG to become the owner/operator of Ghana’s first nuclear power plant.
He said the NPG board, under the chairmanship of Fred Oware, was focused on providing relevant resources to build a strong safety culture and resilience management systems that adhered to standards in the planning and development of nuclear infrastructure and related activities across the country.
He said in addition to electricity generation, nuclear energy could provide solutions to an even wider range of applications – those innovative nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors would complement existing large reactors to enable deep decarbonization as part of the clean energy transition.
“Nuclear technologies are equally improving people’s lives in many other ways and are supporting sustainable developments,” he said.
“Medical, industry and agriculture applications of nuclear technology are in use all over the world, including Ghana.
Seth Twum-Akwaboah, chief executive officer, AGI, said research had shown that Ghana had one of the highest energy tariffs in Africa, which was affecting the competitiveness of local industries
He, therefore, urged industry players to be open-minded about Ghana’s Nuclear Power Programme as part of the energy mix, which experts say would drive down the cost of energy significantly.
He said having an affordable, reliable and sustainable source of power for industry would make Ghanaian businesses competitive and maximise the benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Twum-Akwaboah said industry players had always desired a system, which would enable them to be competitive, relying on clean, affordable, reliable and accessible power, without compromising the sustenance of power generating companies.
Resource persons from the Ministry of Energy, NPG, Nuclear Power Institute, Volta River Authority, GridCo, Bui Power Authority, among others, made presentations on the roles their respective bodies were playing in achieving a national energy mix in the national interest.
They noted that Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah launched Ghana’s Atomic Energy Project in 1964, with plans for utilising nuclear power to drive Ghana’s industrialisation in the future.
They gave the assurance that developing a nuclear programme was a systematic and highly regulated process, which guaranteed the safety and security of all users of power plants.
They answered the questions from participants, which were on the timelines set for the implementation of the project, its affordability and the business opportunities it would provide.