Nuclear power for Africa

By Andrew Kenny, consultant


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Published in:

Energy Efficiency Made Simple Vol III: Energy and enviroFiciency
November 2012 - Chapter 8: 94 – 97

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Nuclear power, which began a little over 50 years ago, now provides about 14% of the world’s electricity. It has by far the best safety record of any source of energy.

Nuclear has special advantages for Africa. One of them is siting. Africa is a large continent with huge distances between cities and centres of electricity demand. In South Africa, for example, the transmission lines are 1 500 km long between the coal power stations in the north east of the country and Cape Town in the south west. Coal stations can only be built near coalfields (because of the huge amounts of coal needed and the exorbitant costs of transporting it over long distances). Hydro stations can only be built at suitable sites on rivers.

Very long transmission lines are often required to bring the electricity from generator to customer and in Africa these lines are expensive and often unreliable. But with nuclear, the power station can be built wherever you want, close to the centre of demand. This is because the nuclear fuel is so tiny in mass, lasts such a long time and is so easy to transport. Koeberg, for example, uses about 40 tons of uranium fuel a year. A coal station providing the same amount of electricity would require about six million tons of coal a year. Nuclear power, unlike coal, hydro and renewable energy can always serve the local community.

Nuclear power is clean, safe, sustainable, economic and reliable source of large scale electricity. It is one rational option for Africa’s pressing electricity needs.


Take note

  • Nuclear power offers economic, environmental and logistical advantages for Africa.
  • Nuclear power can help Africa overcome its desperate shortage of electricity.
  • The biggest disadvantage of nuclear power is public perception.