Adewale Sanyaolu

The Federal Government has set up working groups towards the realisation of about 4,000 mega watts of electricity from nuclear power.

At a media parley Friday in Lagos, the Vice CEO, Central and Southern Africa Office of Russian nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom,  Mr. Ryan Collyer, explained that the role of the working group is to  work on the configuration and feasibility of the project before negotiations would start

Collyer said, for Nigeria that is a growing economy with an aspiration to get industrialised, the country needs a robust energy mix to grow the power sector.

‘‘If you want to grow your economy, industralisation is a child of necessity. In terms of industralisation, you need to produce a lot of raw materials which requires a lot of energy. You need 365 days a year and 24 hours a day to power your industry. You cannot afford intermittent power.

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We are not saying nuclear is the only means of generating power but in terms of substituting the baseload with affordable, environmentally friendly and sustainable power, nuclear energy is the way to go.

In 2017, Rosatom signed two agreements with Nigeria. One was for the construction of the centre for nuclear science and technology and the other was for nuclear power plants. Essentially, these are development project agreements that set a framework for negotiation,’’ he said.

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In order to combat the current energy challenge faced by Nigeria and indeed West African countries, he maintained that, there was the need for access to affordable and clean base load power.

He said Nigeria being a member of the International Atomic Agency is already subjected to international regulation, saying local regulation have lesser role to play in the aspect of nuclear energy because the industry is a highly regulated one.

In 2018, the Nigerian government signed an agreement with Rosatom to build and operate a nuclear power plant, the first of its kind on the continent, as well as a research centre that would house a nuclear research reactor.

The agreement was a furtherance of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) and Rosatom for the construction of four nuclear power plants at the cost of $20 billion (more than N6 trillion). The four plants will have a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts by 2035.

Nigeria currently relies on gas and hydro power plants for its electricity supplies. Vice President Sub-Saharan Africa, Rosatom,  Viktor Polikarpov, had said, even though the cost of constructing a nuclear power plant is quite high, the cost implications of operating them are quite low.

“The average lifespan of a modern nuclear reactor is 60-80 years. This variable, when taken into consideration, makes the expense of delivering power from a nuclear plant quite low.

“If the cost of uranium doubles,  for instance, the cost of electricity produced by nuclear will only increase marginally. This cannot be said about conventional energy sources.