Experts canvass for Nigeria’s nuclear energy development

Energy experts have reviewed challenges in meeting Nigeria’s rising energy demands and made strong case for the adoption of nuclear energy.

Energy experts have reviewed challenges in meeting Nigeria’s rising energy demands and made strong case for the adoption of nuclear energy.

Speaking at a ‘Power Dialogue’ organized by The Electricity Hub (TEH), a subsidiary of The Nextier Group, in collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in Abuja, the experts opined that given its potential for ensuring energy independence, extensive research should be conducted on its development cost alongside the technological and environmental implications of the energy source.

The experts, included Emeka Okpukpara, Partner, The Nextier Group; Sam Amadi, Director Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; Mycle Schneider, Coordinator and Publisher, World Nuclear Industry Status Report, Ifeoma Malo, Co-founder/CTO, Clean Technology Hub Nigeria, and Abdullahi Mati, Director, Nuclear Power Plant Devt. Programme, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission.

With the current irregular power supply and constant collapse of the national grid, the experts believe that Nigeria must diversify its energy source by exploring the potential of nuclear power to tackle its vast electricity deficit and against the backdrop of its recent commitment to net-zero emissions by 2060.

On his part, Emeka Okpukpara, while assessing the nation’s power challenges, noted several changes occurring in the space, such as the partial activation of contracts and the recent move by the Senate on States’ ability to generate power.

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He believes that this, and the call for climate action, has created a window of opportunity for Nigerians to explore other ways of generating power, including nuclear energy.

Also speaking, Abdullahi Mati, noted that the “conversations around nuclear energy revolve not only around technology and economic value but also a political inclination”

He disclosed that research is however ongoing to develop new generation reactors with minimal waste products and increased capacity, as part of measures to tackle environmental hazards of nuclear plants.

“This research led to technological developments such as small modular reactors that can be installed within load centres with high efficiency”, he said.

In his contribution, former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission ( NERC), Sam Amadi, noted that excluding wind energy, nuclear energy is the second most clean energy resource that is devoid of greenhouse gas emissions.

“In addition, its cost-effectiveness and efficient load base offers it a comparative advantage over other energy systems”, Amadi said, while also noting that the “joint committee on nuclear development in Nigeria has a pipeline to develop four nuclear reactors with the capacity to generate 4000MW”.

He, however, pointed out that “although nuclear power is a clean energy resource, it has significant environmental drawbacks, such as radioactive waste products from the reaction.

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“This is an essential factor to consider in Nigeria regarding talks around resource development”, he further said.

Also contributing, Ifeoma Malo, emphasized the need to decarbonise energy systems and seek solutions to achieve energy independence, in line with the global shift and trends around energy security.

She noted that over the last year, there had been several commercial activities around catalysing nuclear power in Nigeria, but added that Nigeria does not appear ready for nuclear energy generation, “ given the challenges around the existing electricity generation and supply network”

According to her, the current system is be deviled by poor management structure in the country, which has impacted the current energy infrastructure.

On the environmental issues of the resource, Malo pointed out the need to “delineate emissions, radiation and safety in considering nuclear as an energy transition fuel”

The panelists unanimously agreed that while nuclear energy is envisioned as a clean energy resource, talks around its development in Nigeria may not be viable considering the present bottlenecks affecting the country’s electricity sector.

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