Professor Edward Akaho, Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), on Wednesday said the country must draw plans to enable it to explore nuclear energy for electricity generation by 2018 to avert future supply disruptions.
He said that the first step for the country to achieve this goal should be the signing and ratification of all international treaties and conventions on nuclear energy.
Prof. Akaho was delivering an inaugural lecture as a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on the topic: “Nuclear Power for Generating Electricity in Ghana: Issues and Challenges”, in Accra.
He said the country should make its own national nuclear laws and legislations to deal with all aspects of nuclear safety, security, safeguards and liability for nuclear damages.
Prof. Akaho also said it was important that Parliament enacted a law to establish the Ghana Nuclear Regulatory Authority to be independent of the GAEC, which was an operating organization.
He said that such a body should be empowered to perform its statutory duties of licensing all operations and procedures and regulating activities of nuclear power plants in a professional and impartial manner.
Prof. Akaho explained that these moves would help in building the necessary public and international confidence in the country that it would use nuclear for peaceful purposes.
He stressed the need for training of skilled human resource and called for concerted efforts to promote effective technology transfer and partnership through bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Prof. Akaho said without a reliable power supply, the country was likely to miss out on its goal of attaining a middle income status by 2015.
He said the country's economic development was strongly depended on the availability of consistent supply of grid electricity.
Prof. Akaho, however, said with an expanding economy and a growing population, Ghana would face major challenges in providing the required energy in a reliable and sustainable manner.
Prof. Akaho said it was likely that hydro power, thermal generation based on imported crude oil or natural gas and renewable sources could not be relied upon to ensure adequate and secured expansion in the long-term.
He said nuclear power was a proven technology that had been used safely and efficiently for decades with constant monitoring and strict enforcement of rules and regulations.
Prof. Akaho said although the initial cost of building nuclear plant was high, in the long-term it was inexpensive to operate.
“The several potential drivers for nuclear power growth are the growing demand for electricity, rising and volatile prices of fossil fuels, electricity supply security concerns and constraints, its improved relative economic competitiveness, nuclear power's lengthening experience and good performance,” he said.
In the wake of Ghana's energy crisis in 2007, President John Agyekum Kufuor set up a Nuclear Power Committee to prepare pre-feasibility studies on the country's chances of expanding its power generation by including nuclear energy.
The committee, chaired by Prof. Daniel Adjei Bekoe, after close to five months of hard work presented to government a roadmap for adopting nuclear power by 2018.
The peak demand for power for the domestic market was projected to exceed a generating capacity of 3,000 mega watts and 4,000 mega watts in 2015 and 2020.
The existing installed capacity for electricity generation was 2,044 mega watts made up of 58 per cent hydro, 37 per cent thermal plants and five per cent diesel generators.
The capacity would have to double by 2020 in order to meet the peak power demand, and available renewal energy resources other than hydro can at best provide 10 per cent of the national demand at cost competitive prices by 2020.
The total available hydro power potential, including the under developed sites, could only contribute up to 44 per cent of total demand by 2020.