Kenya to Begin Construction of First Nuclear Power Plant.


Kenya has announced the commencement of its first nuclear power plant in 2027 as the country seeks to enhance its energy generation in the midst of rising demand and push for zero-carbon energy. 

In an interview, the acting CEO of the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), Justus Wabuyabo said the agency has advanced plans to float international tenders for the construction of the plant either in Kilifi or Kwale counties of Kenya.

In fact, he further revealed that a tender has been floated which gained the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2021 for Kenya to go ahead with setting up the infrastructure for the plants. 

According to Wabuyabo, the bidding stage will begin between 2026 and 2027 while construction will commence in 2027. He noted that “construction ranges from six to ten years so we are looking at 2034 to 2035 to commission the first plant”.

“We are now focusing on Kilifi and Kwale as our ideal sites. They have met most of the criteria but before we determine the final site, we have to do a detailed scientific study as provided for by IAEA like seismic tests,” he remarked.

Plans to construct the nuclear power plant have been in the works since 2009 despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) giving its approval in 2021 for the country to begin setting up the plant, with initial construction expected to start in 2024.

The goal of Kenya to build a nuclear power station is motivated by the anticipated rise in electricity demand as the nation strives to become a middle-income economy by 2030. If everything goes as planned, the plant which is expected to have a capacity of 1,000 (MW) will be pivotal to helping boost the electricity supply to the economy and help reduce reliance on dirty thermal plants.

As of May, geothermal energy made up the largest portion of the electricity produced, contributing 45.21 percent, followed by hydropower (21.05 percent), wind (16.08 percent), and solar energy (3.92 percent).

But in addition to the pricey nuclear facility, Kenya will also need to update its electrical transmission system in order to supply nuclear power plants with dependable and off-site power.

The current power grid will need to be significantly improved, according to joint research by the NuPEA and SGS consortium, because of the strict safety requirements placed on nuclear facilities and the magnitude of such installations.  

Only South Africa in all of Africa has a commercial nuclear power station, which produces 5% of the nation’s electricity. 47 percent of the electricity produced in the US is nuclear. Over the years, Kenya has increased its attempts to realize its nuclear energy ambition and has sent hundreds of students abroad to nuclear-using developed economies to improve their skill sets and make sure that the nation does not entirely import the workforce.

The construction of the power station is in line with the country’s plan of embracing cleaner fuels for electricity and it is costed at Ksh500 billion to Ksh600 billion.


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