With cheaper and abundance of cleaner hydropower and solar energy options, Uganda doesn't need to invest in environmentally risk nuclear power plants, the German Ambassador to Uganda Matthias Schauer, has advised.
Schauer joins a number of local and international experts who have advised Uganda against plans to put up a 2000MW nuclear plant. Schauer, whose country continues to support Uganda’s clean energy projects and policies, said nuclear power generation is not only costly but environmentally sensitive.
He was speaking at the launch of the Energy Policy for Uganda 2023 at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. He said plans to put nuclear power plants seem not to fit in the goals of the new policy.
"Uganda is envied by many industrial nations including Germany for its abundant hydropower and huge potential for solar power. Germany has decided to shut down its nuclear power plants because they simply remain a potential threat to the population as we have last seen in Fukushima before the Chornobyl," he said.
Germany stopped producing any electricity from its nuclear power plant in April this year. Schauer said Germany shut down its nuclear power plants for fear of disasters like the Chornobyl disaster in 1986 and the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.
"And nobody has found a solution for dealing with a highly toxic waste. And by the way, a nuclear power plant costs between $15 billion and $20 billion. It makes you wonder if it is really worth especially if you have other options," added Schauer.
Energy ministry permanent secretary Irene Bateebe last year indicated that Uganda needs $9 billion to put up the nuclear power plant. But the ambassador says putting up a nuclear power plant costs between $15-20 billion.
The new policy which is replacing the one developed in 2002 identifies the development of nuclear as part of the plans for Uganda’s energy mix. The policy among other strategies suggests public-private partnership investments, including decommissioning, spent fuel, and radioactive waste management, in nuclear power development.
The government has in the past suggested a phased approach towards putting up the first reactors for the 2000MW nuclear power plant by the end of 2031. Vision 2040 identifies nuclear energy as an option for meeting the energy deficit in Uganda.
State minister for Energy, Sidronius Okaasi Opolot said Uganda will continue to pursue nuclear for electricity as part of the pursuit of clean and sustainable energy sources.
"We will enhance the power of abundant sunlight, hydro, geothermal, nuclear also but cautiously following the guidance of the Atomic Nuclear Energy and we're also following the best approach. We're not rushing there but we're very cautious of the risks. We're following the guidance of the Atomic Nuclear Energy," said Opolot.
The new policy says 24000MW of nuclear energy should be in place by 2040 and that this type of energy should constitute 48 per cent of the energy mix. Each megawatt of nuclear power should cost $6.77 million.
The entire project is estimated to cost over $162 million (about Shs 604 trillion). President Museveni in March expressed Uganda’s determination to tap into nuclear energy. Museveni said he halted the exportation of uranium because Uganda needs electricity for socio-economic development.
He told the Africa Nuclear Business Platform 2023 (AFNBP) that the issue of nuclear power in Africa is a must because it is reliable.
“The option of nuclear power is a very wise one; we should not waste time on that,” he said.
Ministry of Energy initiated plans to review the Atomic Energy Act, of 2008 for a new nuclear energy law as part of the nuclear development program.