“Companies that are planning new nuclear units are currently indicating that the total costs (including escalation and financing costs) will go up to $8,100 per kW which translates into $9 billion for each 1,100 MW plant.
Currently, Uganda’s annual national budget is $11 billion.
Early this month, the Ministry of Energy and
Mineral Development stated that Uganda would have a
functional commercial nuclear energy industry by 2030.
According to State Minister
for Energy Simon D’Ujanga, there was an ongoing study for the first
plant, and, although it was not clear how much will be produced, it would not be less than 1,000 megawatts.
“Nuclear energy plants are usually big generators and this
will not be less than 1,000 megawatts,” he said at the Energy Sector
Performance Review. This came barely a year after the ministry said
that China would help Uganda build and operate nuclear power plants under a deal
signed with the government in 2019.
potential sites had been identified in different parts of the country to host
the plants. In the same year, Uganda signed an
Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia to build capacity to exploit
nuclear technology for energy, medical and other peaceful purposes.
President Museveni said that Uganda needed nuclear power plants,
arguing that the ongoing hydropower projects would soon be overrun by high demand,
hence the need for nuclear power plants.
He added that the
government had completed pre-feasibility studies for a 2000-Meggwatt project,
while the energy minister said then, that there were plans to produce 30,000
megawatts by 2026. By 2040,
the government hopes that nuclear will be producing at least 60 per cent of the
electricity in Uganda.
is produced when atoms in uranium oil split in a process called fission,
causing very high amounts of energy. This energy heats water and very high temperatures
and the resulting steam them forces turbines to rotate, producing electricity. In some cases,
the water is called and reused within the plant, making nuclear one of the cleanest
sources of energy.
But the plan to
generate electricity from nuclear energy has drawn mixed feeling, with some
wondering whether it is necessary, considering the current level of demand due
to the low industrialisation level of the country.
the country has an installed capacity of 1,252 megawatts with more than 90 per cent coming from hydro projects and the rest from renewable sources like solar,
geothermal and bagasse. Experts
argue that even at the planned addition of 800 megawatts by Karuma and Isimba
projects will just be a tiny fraction of Uganda’s electricity resources, before
even thinking of solar and wind.
energy expert, Engineer Dennis Ariho thinks that it is better for the country to
first, exploit the available power resources as the country builds the capacity to
manage safety issues.
"We need to first…
type of energy is considered one of the cleanest sources, it is dreaded for its
potentially destructive nature in case of an error or accident, as uranium has
high levels of radiation.
has been named for causing cancers and leading to deformation of unborn
children, among others, on top of affecting animal and plant species. The biggest
accident in recent history is the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011 when an earthquake in Fukushima, Japan damaged
the nuclear plant, as well as the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in Ukraine which resulted from operational mistakes during a safety
effects of these are still being traced in the surrounding areas, while
hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated to as far as 30 kilometres
disasters enhanced calls for the dismantling of reactors and countries like
Germany, Japan and the USA have been pulling down the plants, most of which
were commissioned for peaceful energy uses in the 1970s and 80s.
hopes that by 2022 it will have completed phasing out its 17 remaining plants,
and by 2030, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland will have done the same. The cost of
dismantling a plant is just about the cost of decommissioning one, according to
Synapse Energy Economics, a nuclear research group.
“Companies that are planning new
nuclear units are currently indicating that the total costs (including escalation
and financing costs) will go up to $8,100 per kW which translates into $9
billion for each 1,100 MW plant.
Currently, Uganda’s annual national
budget is USD 11 billion.
Eng Ariho also says that currently
there is too much generation capacity and the coming of a nuclear industry will
mean much more capacity than demand, which will be costly for the country to maintain.
//Cue in; if the demand…
Cue out: … is higher.”//
Should one decide to decommission a
plant, it will cost about USD 2 dollars while the permanent safe depository of
waste material from the reactor would need not less than USD 4 billion.
As Africa, including Uganda, Egypt,
Kenya and Rwanda plan on building their industries, the costs of building, the
expected duration and the expected cost of dismantling when the need arises, will
have to be considered in the feasibility studies.