USA, Japan partner with Ghana on SMR deployment

28 October 2022

The USA, Japan and Ghana have announced a strategic collaboration to support the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the West African nation. Through the partnership, Ghana could become an advanced nuclear technology hub.

Cape Coast, Ghana (Image: namilio / Pixabay)

On 27 October, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins and Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Ota Fusae announced deeper cooperation to support the deployment of SMR and other advanced reactor technologies in partner countries. The announcement - Winning an Edge Through Cooperation in Advanced Nuclear (WECAN) - reaffirms commitments by Japan and the USA to energy innovation, energy security, and global clean energy transition in a smart, cost-effective, and secure way by advancing the latest technology and commercial leadership in emerging technologies that provide firm, reliable electricity and industrial heat.

Support under WECAN can include prerequisite technical and regulatory assistance and feasibility studies for those countries to pursue innovative nuclear technologies that increase access to clean, reliable energy and support climate objectives.

As a first step toward enhancing cooperation under WECAN, the USA and Japan announced a partnership with Ghana to support Ghana's ambition of being a first mover in SMR deployment in Africa and establishing itself as an advanced nuclear technology hub.

The announcement follows a 6-7 October visit to Ghana by US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk and an interagency team, including the State Department, for consultations on enhancing cooperation on civil nuclear energy with the government of Ghana.

As an initial step, the Japan government is supporting an SMR feasibility study to be carried out by Japanese and US industry - IHI Corporation, JGC Corporation, Regnum Technology Group and NuScale Power - in collaboration with the government of Ghana, through its agencies Nuclear Power Ghana, Nuclear Regulatory Authority and the Nuclear Power Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.

The study will consider the potential deployment of a NuScale VOYGR SMR nuclear power plant, including existing infrastructure assessments, as well as evaluate supply chain opportunities in the Ghanaian market.

The partners noted that collaboration to support the deployment of SMRs in Ghana is subject to Ghana's nuclear regulation and US export controls. They also noted that the final decision on which technology to deploy in Ghana rests with the Ghanaian government.

In March this year, the USA and Ghana announced their partnership to support Ghana's adoption of SMR technology under the US Department of State's Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme.

Launched by the Department of State in April 2021, FIRST provides capacity-building support to partner countries as they develop their nuclear energy programmes to support clean energy goals under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation.

The programme will support Ghana's adoption of SMR technology, including support for stakeholder engagement, advanced technical collaboration, and project evaluation and planning.

Ghana has already adopted the International Atomic Energy Agency's Milestones Approach, a phased method to help countries that are considering or planning their first nuclear power plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News