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Industrial involvement of nuclear power in Ghana: Tackling AGI’s energy trilemma

AGIMr. Seth Twum-Akwaboah, CEO of AGI

Industrial involvement of nuclear power in Ghana: Tackling AGI’s energy trilemma

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is confronted with a formidable energy trilemma, marked by the urgent necessity for secured and dependable energy, the demand for accessible and cost-effective energy, and the quest for sustainable and clean energy sources. Presently, Ghana heavily relies on hydroelectric power, thermal plants for its electricity needs, a system prone to vulnerability owing to the unpredictability of climate change and inconsistent rainfall patterns. Consequently, the country frequently grapples with energy deficits, leading to disruptions in industrial operations and hindering economic progress.

Overview of Ghana’s energy mix

According to the Energy Commission, Ghana’s electricity mix in 2022 comprises Thermal plants accounting for 68.9%, Hydroelectric Power at 29.0%, and Renewable Energy, mainly solar, making up 2.1%. Ghana currently boasts a commendable electrification rate of 89% as of 2022 and aims to achieve nationwide electricity access by 2030. Data provided by the Energy Commission reveals that the industrial sector stands as the largest consumer of electricity in Ghana, consuming 42% of the total electricity in 2022. Despite improvements in electricity supply, industries continue to grapple with challenges related to reliability and cost. Notably, electricity expenses make up a significant portion, ranging from 20% to 30%, of the total production costs for industrial operations.

AGI has acknowledged the potential of nuclear power as a solution to provide a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable energy source to address these challenges. Nuclear power presents an opportunity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, cultivate employment prospects, and support both economic and environmental objectives in Ghana. Collaborating actively with the government, AGI is lobbying for favourable policies and regulations conducive to the adoption of nuclear power. Encouraging its member enterprises to actively explore the possibilities afforded by nuclear energy, AGI is advocating for collaborative efforts from local private entities to facilitate the transition, while pushing for local contents. Recognising the significance of a stable macro-economic backdrop, AGI is poised to rely on it to guarantee the success of Ghana’s nuclear energy aspirations.

The impetus propelling Ghana towards nuclear energy revolves around ensuring energy security, sustainability, and fostering economic advancement. AGI plays a pivotal role in overseeing Ghana’s transition to nuclear energy, drawing upon its expertise and influence to ensure an equitable distribution of benefits to all sectors of society. Embracing innovation and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies is central to expediting the shift to nuclear power.

Despite potential risks on the horizon, AGI remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring accountability, transparency, and transformative progress in the nuclear energy journey. By forging partnerships with government -Energy Ministry, Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), Nuclear Regulatory (NRA), Technical and Scientific Support Organisations (TSOs), global stakeholders and leveraging the expertise within its member companies, AGI is at the forefront of propelling Ghana towards a low-carbon economy powered by nuclear energy. Through its proactive leadership and advocacy endeavors, AGI is instrumental in shaping Ghana’s energy landscape and securing a sustainable future for the country’s industrial sector. The AGI serves as the leading voice for industrial development and represents the interests of the various sectors across Ghana. With a focus of promoting sustainable growth, AGI plays a crucial role in advocating for policies that support the country’s industrial sector. It is important to anchor the point that the GNPPO, NPG, NRA and TSOs have been spearheading efforts to introduce nuclear power as a reliable and sustainable energy source.

The energy trilemma facing AGI

AGI faces a complex energy trilemma, characterizlsed by the challenges of ensuring a reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy supply for industrial operations. Inconsistencies in electricity supply, high tariffs, and reliance on imported fuel sources present significant hurdles for the sector’s growth and competitiveness.

Importance of reliable and affordable energy for industrial growth

Reliable and affordable energy is the lifeblood of industrial growth, driving productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. For AGI and its members, a stable energy supply is essential for maintaining operations, meeting production targets, and fulfilling market demands efficiently.

Exploring the potential of nuclear power for industrial involvement in Ghana

Nuclear power emerges as a promising solution to AGI’s energy trilemma, offering a sustainable and cost-effective energy source with minimal greenhouse gas emissions. By harnessing nuclear energy, industries can benefit from a consistent and stable power supply, reducing operational risks and enhancing long-term sustainability.

Current energy sources and challenges in meeting industrial demand

Despite Ghana’s diverse energy mix, challenges persist in meeting the growing energy demands of industries. Limited capacity, intermittency in renewable sources, and high costs of thermal power generation pose constraints on ensuring a reliable and affordable energy supply for industrial activities.

Advantages of nuclear power for sustainable industrial development

The adoption of nuclear power for industrial use presents numerous advantages, including consistent baseload power generation, reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and lower carbon emissions. Nuclear energy offers a sustainable solution to meet increasing energy demands while contributing to Ghana’s climate goals.

Economic implications of adopting nuclear power for AGI

The integration of nuclear power into Ghana’s industrial sector could have significant economic benefits, including cost savings, enhanced energy security, and job creation opportunities. By investing in nuclear infrastructure, AGI can drive industrial growth, attract investments, and bolster the country’s economic resilience.

Government support and initiatives for nuclear power development

The Ghanaian government has demonstrated its commitment to advancing nuclear power development through strategic partnerships, regulatory frameworks, and investments in research and infrastructure. By collaborating with industry stakeholders and international partners – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the government aims to establish a robust nuclear energy program that supports industrial growth.

Role of AGI in advocating for nuclear power as a solution

AGI plays a pivotal role in advocating for nuclear power as a sustainable energy solution to address the sector’s energy challenges. Through engagement with policymakers, public awareness campaigns, and industry collaborations, AGI can leverage its influence to promote the adoption of nuclear energy for industrial involvement in Ghana.

Technological advancements in nuclear power for Industrial applications

Advancements in nuclear technology, such as small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced fuel cycles, offer innovative solutions for industrial applications. These technologies enhance safety, efficiency, and flexibility in nuclear power generation, catering for the specific energy requirements of industrial processes.

Potential partnerships and collaborations for nuclear power implementation

Collaborations between AGI, the GNPPO, NPG, NRA, TSOs, IAEA, other international nuclear agencies, and private sector partners can facilitate the implementation of nuclear power projects for industrial use. By leveraging expertise, resources, and best practices, these partnerships can accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy infrastructure in Ghana.

Environmental considerations of nuclear power for industrial use

While nuclear power offers environmental benefits in terms of low carbon emissions and reduced air pollution, it also raises concerns regarding radioactive waste management, water consumption, and ecosystem impacts. Implementing stringent environmental safeguards and monitoring mechanisms is essential to ensure the sustainable operation of nuclear facilities for industrial purposes.

Safety measures and regulations in nuclear power facilities

Safety is paramount in nuclear power facilities, with stringent regulations and protocols in place to mitigate operational risks and ensure public health and environmental protection. Through adherence to international safety standards, comprehensive training programme, and continuous monitoring, AGI can uphold safety standards in nuclear power operations for industrial involvement.

Case studies of other countries successfully integrating nuclear power into industries

Drawing lessons from countries like France, South Korea, and Russia where nuclear power plays a significant role in industrial energy supply, Ghana can learn best practices and strategies for successful nuclear power integration. These case studies showcase the potential benefits of nuclear energy for driving industrial development and achieving energy security.

Opportunities in nuclear power for industrial acceleration

The nuclear energy industry is an engine for job creation because it requires highly skilled labour and promotes economic growth.

A 1000 Megawatts nuclear power plant creates direct employment for 700 to 1000 people during its operations.

Nuclear power plants creates the largest workforce annual income based on both large capacity and and being a labour intensive technology. (Nuclear Energy Institute Study, 2012).

Nuclear power plant workforce is among one of the highest paying jobs in established nuclear countries.

Estimated peak “on site” Craft labour requirements for 1000 Megawatts Unit is about 4140. A typical on site labour job types include masons, carpenters, welders, pipefitters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, iron workers, electricians, heavy equipment operators, engineers, construction supervisors, project managers and insulators.

Supply chain implications of nuclear power adoption for AGI

The adoption of nuclear power by AGI will have far-reaching supply chain implications, impacting the procurement of equipment, materials, and services for nuclear infrastructure development. Strengthening local manufacturing capabilities, fostering technology transfer, and building a robust supply chain ecosystem are essential for supporting the growth of Ghana’s nuclear sector.

Impact on job creation and skills development in the nuclear sector

The introduction of nuclear power in Ghana’s industrial landscape presents opportunities for job creation, skills development, and capacity building in the nuclear sector. By investing in education, training programmes, and workforce development initiatives, AGI can ensure a skilled labor force to support the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Various opportunities in manufacturing and construction include consulting, corporate professional services, decommissioning, engineering, food and beverage, generation parts and maintenance services, generation planning and component systems, ICT, janitorial supplies, landscaping, logistics and shipping, maintenance, office equipment and supplies, project management, safety services and supplies, telecommunications, transportation, and waste management.

Potential for export opportunities through nuclear power infrastructure

Establishing a strong nuclear power industry in Ghana opens up prospects for export opportunities, as the country can leverage its expertise in nuclear technology and infrastructure to meet regional and international energy demands. By positioning itself as a hub for nuclear services and solutions, AGI can expand its market reach and enhance economic competitiveness.

Community engagement and stakeholder consultations for nuclear projects

Engaging communities, stakeholders, and the public in nuclear projects is critical for building trust, ensuring transparency, and addressing concerns related to nuclear power development. By fostering dialogue, conducting impact assessments, and incorporating feedback, AGI can promote inclusive decision-making and foster social acceptance of nuclear energy initiatives. Apart from that,
AGI’s policy advocacy efforts involve collaborating with government officials to promote favorable policies and providing representation in the planning of nuclear projects.

Financing options and investment opportunities for nuclear power

Securing adequate financing and investments is essential for the successful implementation of nuclear power projects in Ghana. Exploring diverse funding sources, such as public-private partnerships, international loans, and investment incentives, can help AGI mobilize resources and facilitate the development of sustainable nuclear energy infrastructure.

Future outlook and potential challenges in industrial involvement of nuclear power in Ghana

Looking ahead, the industrial involvement of nuclear power in Ghana poses both opportunities and challenges for AGI and the country’s energy sector. While nuclear energy offers a promising solution to address the energy trilemma and support industrial growth, issues related to regulatory frameworks, public acceptance, and technology readiness must be navigated to ensure the successful integration of nuclear power into Ghana’s industrial landscape.

In conclusion, the industrial involvement of nuclear power in Ghana represents a transformative opportunity for AGI to address its energy trilemma, drive sustainable growth, and enhance competitiveness in the global market. By leveraging nuclear energy as a reliable and cost-effective source of power, AGI can navigate the complexities of the energy landscape, fuel industrial development, and pave the way for a sustainable future for Ghana’s industries.

Source: Jerry John Akornor

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