By Our Senior Correspondent
With fuel prices soaring following the Russia – Ukraine war which broke out in February, Uganda needs to invest 745 Trillion Shillings over the next 8 years in a nuclear plant if its roadmap for the sustainable energy mix envisaged in Vision 2040 is to remain on course.
According to a report released on Thursday by the International Nuclear Agency (IEA), nuclear energy which has been in decline since the Fukushima disaster in Japan over ten years ago is now set to stage a comeback following the rising fuel prices arising from the Ukraine crisis which comes amidst the climate change demands for clean energy.
There are now 33 countries with active nuclear power programmes and Uganda’s plant was originally projected to be operational in 2031, after jumping the major hurdle when the country’s nuclear reactor project plans got IEA’s approval recently. But that timeline now appears unattainable since it takes ten to fifteen years to have a nuclear power plant up and running. But it is still possible to have nuclear power contributing to the electricity generation mix of Uganda by 2040.
Experts have zeroed in on an area in Aswa region around Lake Kyoga as most suitable for Uganda’s nuclear plant, estimated to cost 745 Trillion Shillings for construction, procuring raw materials and operational costs. One option for the funding is using the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model where a consortium would in in this case enter an agreement with the government to set and operate the facility until it has recovered its investment and profits and then transfer it to the Uganda.
The Ministry of Energy is pursuing an ambitious plan to integrate nuclear power generation in the country’s energy mix. The country’s Nuclear Power Roadmap Development Strategy and Vision 2040 Uganda envisages production of 30,000 Megawatts of nuclear power. Swiss based consultants who have been on the programme for over a decade estimate that the project will cost 744.8 Trillion Shillings.
The biggest source of clean energy is Hydro electric power generated at dams built on the country’s rivers, mainly the Nile.
The Minister of State for Energy Hon. Sidronius Okaasi Opolot said recently that Uganda will employ a participatory approach to its national nuclear power programme to gain stakeholders’ acceptance and also make use of the existing expertise within government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in a concerted effort to allay the citizens fears about the potential dangers portending to these important alternative energy sources .
He was speaking at the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Mission to Uganda –which was held at Speke Resort Munyonyo in November last year .
He said that at least eight Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) potential sites have been identified and out of those Buyende and Nakasongola ranked highest with suitable- rock-landscape that is needed for a solid , secure base for a nuclear facility .
Other areas that have been considered for these national nuclear facilities include Lamo, Kasandaand Kiruhura, according to Mr. Baguma Sabiiti a senior Nuclear Energy officer at the Energy Ministry.
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