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Proposed nuclear power plants can boost electricity — Expert

A Russian Nuclear Energy expert says that the construction of a proposed Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), in Nigeria is capable of delivering stable and affordable electricity in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer, Central and Southern Africa, Nuclear Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), Dmitry Shornikov, said this in an interview text emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to the expert, another advantage of NPP is the predictability of the price of electricity, which has a life span range of between 60 to 80 years.

“Another proven advantage of nuclear power is its environmental friendliness, NPPs do not emit any harmful substances into the atmosphere during their operation.

“First and foremost, I have to point out that nuclear energy is not a competitor with other energy sources but rather a complimentary base load source.

“Nuclear power is characterised by the very large amount of energy available from a very small amount of fuel.

“The amount of waste is correspondingly very small, for example, 25 tons of uranium generates roughly the same amount of electricity as 2.7 million tons of coal.

“The nuclear sector is also the only energy sector that safely stores 100 per cent of all its waste.

“As far as security of supply goes, nuclear is unrivalled, new generation NPPs are able to achieve net capacity factors of well over 90 per cent, whereas renewable for instance achieve far less than half of that.

“The net capacity factor is essentially the ratio of a power plants’ actual output over a period of time, when compared to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full capacity continuously over same period of time.

“Nuclear energy, therefore, becomes a vital component in the development of a clean energy mix in any country.’’

He said that the primary energy consumption in Nigeria was largely through traditional biomass and waste, consisting of wood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues.

This, according to him, accounts for 74 per cent of energy mix in Nigeria.

“This high share represents the use of biomass to meet off-grid heating and cooking needs, mainly in rural areas.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated that 115 million people in Nigeria rely on traditional biomass and waste as their main sources of energy.

“The other 26 per cent is made up of oil, gas and hydropower. In recent years, the electricity production from hydroelectric sources has plunged due to water shortages and climate change.’’

On safety concerns raised over the proposed NPP in Nigeria, Dmitry said; “Modern nuclear reactors and plants have proved to be real ‘workhorses’ for developed and developing countries.

“They are among the safest and most secure industrial facilities in the world.’’

He said the multiple layers of physical security, inherent in NPP, together with high levels of operational performance, protects plant workers, the public and the environment.

“Nuclear plants are well-designed, operated by trained personnel, defended against all forms of attacks and prepared in the event of an emergency.

“All the standards in the sphere of NPP construction and exploitation are well elaborated and being monitored constantly by high-level team of international experts from IAEA and key Member-States.

“Stringent international regulation, automated, redundant safety systems and the industry’s commitment to comprehensive safety procedures keep nuclear power plants and their communities safe.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria is among the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) a regional cooperative aspect of IAEA.

Dmitry said Nigeria needs to diversify to other energy sources like nuclear power as “not many sources alone can provide a sustainable, economically viable and secure supply of electricity.

“Therefore, an energy mix is crucial because different sources can bring together these three factors’’.

“Hydrocarbons such as coal for instance are economically viable and offer stable power but are unfortunately very bad for the environment.

“Renewable such as wind and solar are great for the environment but are irregular by nature, and only produce electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

“There is unfortunately no economically viable methods of storing power at this point.”

He said it was also important not to be overly dependent on a single source of power, as many African countries were excessively dependent on hydro, which has proved detrimental in the ever changing climate conditions.

Dmitry said the inclusion of nuclear energy to Nigerian’s energy mix would provide much needed diversity and stability to the country’s energy mix.

“Nuclear energy and renewable are not mutually exclusive, each of them has its advantages and models of use, both sources are clean and eco-friendly.”

He said a recent analysis conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) indicated that nuclear plants create some of the largest economic benefits when compared to all other generating sources.

According to NEI, the operation of a nuclear plant requires the highest number of skilled workers per kWh produced when compared to any other technology.

“On average, these jobs pay 36 per cent more than the average salaries in the area where the plant is constructed.

“New plant construction creates a direct demand for thousands of locally sourced skilled labourers such as welders, pipefitters, masons, carpenters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, electricians’ and heavy equipment operators among others.

He further listed benefits to be derived from the implementation of NPP projects to include availability of local investments aimed at maintaining the well-being of the region and development of science and technology.

The ROSATOM official said that the continuous development of the sectors would transform the country into a major economic force on the continent and on the global market.

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