Kenya’s first nuclear plant planned for 2030

Nuclear Power and Energy Agency commences search for construction site.

By Chriselle Moraes on
10th June 2022

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) in Kenya is searching for a suitable site for Kenya’s first nuclear power plant. A detailed site analysis is being conducted on Kilifi, a coastal town 60 kilometres north of Mombasa. Another site is Kwale, 20 kilometres southwest of the port. Both sites are rich in water resources and space, which are needed for nuclear plant development. These sites are also less prone to earthquakes. An environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be conducted in these locations to check the viability of the US$5 billion plant. 

NuPEA is charged with promoting and implementing Kenya’s nuclear power programme and carrying out research and development for the energy sector.

Kenya’s current energy mix of 2705 megawatts of installed power capacity is expected to be boosted by the plant. In this mix, 86% is attributed to green energy sources such as geothermal, wind and solar. Kenya made the first steps toward nuclear power development in 2019 with the enactment of the Nuclear Regulatory Act – which set up the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA). KNRA is a body corporate on radiation protection, nuclear safety, nuclear security, nuclear safeguards, and non-ionizing radiation

The 1,000-megawatt plant construction is expected to commence in 2030. The first reactor is expected to be commissioned by 2036.  Dr Winnie Ndubai, NuPEA Director for Strategy and Planning, said that the acquisition of national permission and budget plan is expected to be completed by 2023. He said the Research Reactor Feasibility Study Report should be completed by June 2022. 

The Ksh500 billion (US$ 4.3 billion) nuclear plant is expected to be operational by 2036. NuPEA is also holding public sensitization seminars to educate the people about nuclear energy. A survey was also launched to evaluate and appraise the Kenyan industry’s competence and interest in getting involved in the nuclear power programme. This will also be a positive step toward formulating a national nuclear localization project.

Erick Ohaga, NuPEA director of Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Development is working towards finding Kenyan sectors which will benefit from the nuclear energy plant and be interested in participating in the Nuclear Power Programme. NuPEA will also set up a 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor project to further enhance nuclear technology in industrial, medicinal, educational and food agriculture. 

South Africa is the only country on the continent to have a commercial nuclear power facility. Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria are developing their first nuclear power facilities and are in Phase 2 of implementation, which is the bid acceptance and contract negotiation stage. Kenya expects to have 3,024 megawatts of installed energy capacity by 2030, with a peak demand of 2,036 megawatts. 

Many countries are shifting to nuclear power to meet their rising electricity needs. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a third of the nearly 30 nations considering nuclear power are in Africa. The IAEA seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Power Plant - Stock Image (Dirk Ercken | Dreamstime)

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