IAEA team on visit to Ghana to assist new nuclear program

30 January 2015

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts are on a working visit to Ghana to offer advice on the country's adoption of nuclear power.

According to the state-run Ghana News Agency, the experts met with Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) to discuss the current status of Ghan's nuclear power program. They also met representatives of the Radiation Protection Board, among other organisations.

Professor Benjamin Jabez Nyarko, GAEC director general, reportedly said Ghana needs to speed upn the passage of its Nuclear Regulatory Power Bill to establish an independent nuclear regulatory body, which is presently with parliament for consideration.

Kwame Abloh, GAEC deputy director general, added that although Ghana is yet to have a nuclear power plant, nuclear power is the most viable option to complement hydropower, thermal and gas-fired electricity generation.

Economic growth and higher demand for electricity for both domestic and industrial use is putting pressure on the country's hydropower, which is its main source power generation, he said. Thermal power is expensive due to the crude oil prices, while the supply of natural gas from Nigeria is unreliable.

Ghana's establishment of a National Energy Policy, Nuclear Regulatory Authority and National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy are some of the preparations it has made towards a full-scale nuclear power program, he said.

Ghana produced 12 billion kWh gross in 2012, two thirds of this from hydro, 2.5 TWh from oil and 1.5 TWh from gas. In 2014 there were power shortages resulting in load shedding by the Electricity Company of Ghana in the south of the country. Earlier projections to 2015 suggested demand of 19.5 billion kWh then. Under the national electrification project commenced in 1989, access reached 72% (2012, of 24.6 billion population), resulting in a fourfold increase in domestic demand.

GAEC is working with Russia on potential financial and technical assistance with that program. In 2012 the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum signed a cooperation agreement with Rosatom, and in mid-2013 further discussion took place on the specifics of joint projects facilitating the implementation of plans by Ghana to develop a nuclear industry with Russian help.

In addition, Ghana has signed a memorandum of understanding with China.

GAEC and the University of Ghana established the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) in 2006 to provide human resources to run the eventual power plant, and ensure the continuous training of competent nuclear scientists.

GAEC was set up in 1963 to introduce nuclear science and technology into the country and to exploit the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for national development. Its main facility is a small (30 kW) Chinese research reactor, operated since 1994 by GAEC’s National Nuclear Research Institute.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News