Ghana is taking significant steps toward integrating its first nuclear power plant into the energy generation mix, with potential benefits including a substantial reduction in emissions, according to Professor Seth Debrah, Director of the Nuclear Power Institute at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (NPI-GAEC).
Currently, nearly two-thirds of Ghana's electricity is produced using natural gas and light crude oil, contributing to air pollution and climate change.
Professor Debrah highlighted the positive environmental impact of nuclear power, stating, “unlike fossil power plants, nuclear power plant's operations emit zero Green House Gases (GHGs).”
He emphasized that incorporating nuclear power into the energy landscape would not only enhance public health by reducing emissions but also contribute to economic stability through the provision of cheaper and more consistent power.
Ghana aims to establish a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant by 2030 as part of its energy transition plan.
Professor Debrah noted that Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) has identified potential sites for the plant, and discussions with vendor countries are advancing, awaiting a final political decision in early 2024 on the partnering country or countries for the project.
The initiative aligns with Ghana's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce emissions.
Professor Debrah highlighted the success of countries like France in meeting climate goals through the utilization of nuclear power.
Responding to concerns about biodiversity loss from uranium extraction, Professor Debrah acknowledged potential impacts but stressed that compared to other fuel sources, uranium's impact is marginal, and remedial measures can address environmental degradation.
Desmond Appiah, Country Lead of the Clean Air Fund, emphasized the health benefits of transitioning to nuclear power, citing the reduction in air pollution-related illnesses and the potential to save a significant portion of the government's health budget.
The move toward nuclear energy reflects a global trend, with representatives from nearly 200 countries recently agreeing at the COP28 climate summit to reduce global fossil fuel consumption to combat climate change.