Five companies compete to build Ghana’s first nuclear plant

The Akosombo Dam on the Volta river. At present, hydropower accounts for a third of Ghana’s energy mix (ZSM /CC BY-SA 3.0)
Nuclear vendors from France, the US, Russia, South Korea, and China are competing to build Ghana’s first nuclear power plant.

Nuclear energy minister Robert Sogbadji told Reuters that his government would pick one or two suppliers by the end of the year.

The government favours a build-own-operate-transfer procurement route, he added.

Vendors in the running are EDF of France; NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group from the US; China National Nuclear Corporation; South Korea’s Kepco; and Russia’s Rosatom. 

Sogbadji said: “Cabinet will approve the final choice. It can be one vendor or two nations; it will depend on the financial model and the technical details.”

He added that a site with room for five reactors had already been designated.

Ghana has long held ambitions to develop a civil nuclear industry.

The Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), a consortium of government agencies, research organisations, and private companies, was formed in 2012.

It has been developing the regulatory and technical infrastructure needed to have a reactor generating by 2030.

According to the GNPPO, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has now met all the phase one requirements recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Currently, Ghana has an installed capacity of 4.7GW. Thermal generation accounts 66% of this, with hydro accounting for the remainder.

Sogbadji said Ghana aimed to add 1GW of nuclear energy to that mix by 2034.

The US Trade Administration, in its survey of Ghana’s energy industry, notes that the energy sector has accumulated debts from power pricing that did not recover full costs, although consumers considered tariffs as relatively high. 

This debt and the high cost of electricity stifles the country’s economic development. The hope is that a nuclear plant would speed industrialisation to supplement agriculture and mining.

Burkina Faso and Uganda have both signed agreements with Russia and China to build their first nuclear power plants.

Kenya, Morocco and Namibia are also working to add nuclear to their energy mix.

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