The benefits of nuclear power cannot be understated – IAEA expert

Accra, A team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts in Ghana, have said nuclear power could play a huge role in the developmental agenda of a country.

They said the IAEA sees energy as very essential for development and that everyone must have access to modern energy sources to reduce poverty, raise living standards, improve health care, and boost industrial and agricultural outputs.

However the growing demand had come at a time when the world was already on a dangerous and unsustainable path in terms of climate change and air pollution.

Nuclear power is a proven technology that could provide a stable, clean, low-carbon, base load electricity that would create better, higher-paying jobs than other types of energy sources, Mr Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director-General of the IAEA, said.

Mr Chudakov, who on a working visit to Ghana, said this during a lecture at the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences at its Atomic campus in Accra.

The lecture was attended by students and key management and staff of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and other affiliated institutions.

Accompanied by Dr Anthony Stott, also an IAEA Expert, and the two praised Ghana for the decision to include nuclear power into its energy mix and said it was a very good and major decision ought to be pursued with the involvement of all the key stakeholders, in order to ensure a smooth implementation process.

He said there is the need to vigorously pursue its Nuclear Power Programme (NPP), which was currently at the first Phase of the infrastructure development.

He said there were several benefits of nuclear power that outweighed that of other sources of energy supply, in terms of sustainability and environmental issues adding that the truth be told instead of focusing on the few accidents including the Fukushima Daichi of Japan, that had been recorded in history, and the fear of the initial cost which was highly capital intensive.

Mr Chudakov said the global demand for sustainable energy had grown so high, with a total of about 2.6 of the world’s population relying on biomas, while 1.1 billion and one billion people respectively had no access to energy and health care services, leading to poverty and underdevelopment.

He said there was therefore a direct and indirect relation between energy consumption and poverty, which could only be addressed by nuclear energy, which was the safest, cheapest compared to other sources and the most highly regulated in terms of safety, security and safeguards.

He said due to the unique characteristics of nuclear power, there is the need to pay special attention to ensure high safety, security and safeguard measures, which the IAEA was currently assisting newcomer countries like Ghana to develop in their NPPs.

Currently there were several nuclear power plants under construction even after the Fukushima Daichi accident, and 60 out of the 138 IAEA Member-States were also seeking to construct a nuclear power plant and therefore being assisted by the Agency to prepare their infrastructure in accordance with the global standards and Milestone Approaches, he said.

Mr Chudakov said the IAEA had supported 22 countries including Ghana, in conducting an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission, to help them know their status in the first phase of development of their NPP, and to address the identified gaps to en able them fulfill the requirements of the initial processes of their national Roadmaps.

The IAEA had also supported countries with aging nuclear power plants to maintain and manage nuclear fuel.

He said it was expected that with good leadership, management and operational practices, nuclear power could be the most safest and beneficial commodity for economic empowerment, enhanced livelihoods, and wished Ghana well in her Nuclear Power agenda.

Professor Benjamin J.B Nyarko, the Director General of GAEC, said the country had made quite some progress in the development of its Phase One nuclear power infrastructure, and was gradually progressing.

He also attested to the fact an objective IAEA-INIR mission conducted in January this year to peer review Ghana’s infrastructure progress, had been very helpful in that it helped in identifying areas that needed to be focused on to enable the country to fulfill the requirements of the first phase milestone of its Roadmap.

The Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation, he said, was posed for action and would like to thank all stakeholders who had so far contributed to the success of the programme.

Source: Ghana News Agency