Rwanda Signs Deal For Demonstration Reactor
Rwanda hopes to have its first nuclear plant by 2030.
Rwanda Atomic Energy Board (RAEB) has signed an agreement with Dual Fluid Energy to collaborate on the development of a demonstration nuclear reactor in the East African country.
The demonstration reactor is expected to be operational by 2026 with the subsequent technology testing to be completed by 2028.
The government of Rwanda has agreed to provide the site and infrastructure for the project, while Dual Fluid Energy is responsible for the technical implementation. This will be the Canadian-German nuclear technology company’s first demonstration nuclear reactor to be built anywhere in the world.
Video highlights: The signing ceremony of the partnership agreement between Rwanda Atomic Energy Board and Dual Fluid Energy Inc. to build first Dual Fluid demonstration nuclear reactor in #Rwanda pic.twitter.com/fGY1sTDOim— Ministry of Infrastructure | Rwanda (@RwandaInfra) September 12, 2023
Dual Fluid Energy is looking to raise EUR70 million (US$74.7 million) in financing for the project.
The company aims to harness a new type of nuclear fission based on liquid fuel and lead coolant, which could potentially increase the performance of the nuclear power that is produced today. The new reactors could be used to produce electricity, hydrogen and synthetic fuels at costs below those of fossil fuels.
“In order to meet the growing energy demand of its population, to boost the development of its industrial sector, and to build an economy that is resilient to climate change, Rwanda is looking at nuclear energy to add to its energy generation mix,” said RAEB CEO Fidele Ndahayo at the signing ceremony on 12 September.
“The Dual Fluid technology has nuclear safety design features that make it accident-free. The technology will produce relatively low amounts of radioactive waste that will be safely managed, in line with existing international waste management standards.”
The Rwandan government is keen to establish strategic partnerships with companies involved in the design and development of small modular nuclear reactor technologies due to the small size of the national grid.
Once the testing of the demonstration reactor is complete by 2028, the plan is to commence work on the design and construction of a fully-fledged prototype reactor that could potentially produce up to 100MW of power.
“Normally, traditional nuclear energy power plants take between eight and 10 years to be complete," Ndahayo told the New Times Podcast, following the signing of the agreement. "But with the new [SMR] technology … the period of construction may be shortened to … five to six years. I would say by 2030, if everything goes well, we should have our first nuclear power plant.”
According to the CEO, Rwanda currently has a power generation capacity of about 340MW and uses 200MW at peak hours.
Demand is rising rapidly, with forecasts suggesting that by 2035 the country will need about 3,000-4,000MW of installed capacity, about 10 times the current level of production.
The government believes nuclear power needs to be part of the energy mix.
“If you look at all available energy resources in Rwanda [today] – [including] hydropower, methane gas and peat – we can hardly [increase capacity] to 800-900MW … maximum 1,000MW,” Ndahayo told the podcast.
RAEB was established in 2020 following a presidential order. The country became a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2012.
In October 2019, Rwanda signed an agreement with Russia’s State Atomiс Energy Corporation (Rosatom) to construct a Centre of Nuclear Science and Technologies. The centre is expected to comprise a multi-purpose research water-cooled reactor with up to 10MW of power capacity.
It will allow the production of radioisotopes for use in industry and agriculture as well as healthcare.
Top photo: Agreement signing (Source: Twitter/X @DualFluid)