Monday, 15 July 2013


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Kenya is not where it aspires to be in terms of electricity generation and supply. In the history of the nuclear industry, going nuclear is not a journey achieved in one day or five years but one that is keenly calculated and strong safety measures put in place as well as adhered to without negotiation. For Kenya, embarking on a nuclear power journey is not any different either. Preparations towards this started in November 2010 when KNEB was established to play the role of a Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization (NEPIO). A Pre-Feasibility Study Report which is almost coming into completion will allow the Government to make an appropriate and informed decision to implement a nuclear power generation project. 

Besides, the country is also preparing future personnel in terms of building capacity for human resource. The Government has invested heavily in sponsoring students to pursue Post Graduate Studies in Nuclear Science at the University of Nairobi's Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology. Additionally, with the growing partnership between the Government of Kenya and that of the Republic of South Korea, more students are pursuing a Masters Degree in Nuclear Engineering at South Korea's Institute of Nuclear Graduate Studies (KINGS). In light of this, it is expected that by the time a nuclear power plant is commissioned for operation in about 10 years to come, these personnel will have been trained and exposed to the nuclear world enough to professionally carry out operational activities in a nuclear power plant. KNEB has also been participating in public forums to create awareness and educate the public on nuclear energy issues as a means to address public fears and concerns about this source of electricity. These are just a few examples of how the country is preparing itself for a civil nuclear electricity generation project.

At this point in time, we can only be patient and let the Government make a concrete decision as pertains to the entire issue of technically going nuclear. The report will also address in detail specific issues such as siting of the nuclear power plant, funding and financing of the project, emergency response, safety and security,  radioactive waste management and nuclear plant technology among others. It is hoped that public concerns will be adequately addressed in the aforementioned report which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also offering its support and guidance before it is presented to the Government for scrutiny and appropriate decision-making.

We all look forward to a better and power secure nation. Aren't we? 

Friday, 26 April 2013


In reality, there is no single energy source that is perfect or sufficient enough to quench the thirst for energy in any given country. Cheap and reliable energies usually come at heavier environmental impacts. Pure, renewable, and clean energies like wind, solar and geothermal tend to be expensive, unreliable and rare.

Nuclear energy can be harnessed for electricity generation at the same time leaving an environmentally clean environment due to the fact that it is a carbon-dioxide-emission-free energy source. Nuclear is a clean-air energy that is designed to release only steam rather than smoke into the atmosphere thus the reason for it being environmentally friendly. In fact, it scores highly in terms of fighting climate change since it does not emit green house gases which heavily deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming. Nuclear energy is also cost-competitive and allows us to power our homes and industries without digging deep into our pockets because it is one of the affordable sources of electricity when compared to other sources.

According to the Energy Information Center website, nuclear waste is so dense that if you piled all of the used fuel generated from all of the power plants in the United States in the past 60 years, it could fit it all on a football field. It is quite unbelievable but also a fact!!

In the United States which has the largest number of nuclear power plants in the world (104), used nuclear fuel and facilities are kept safe, controlled and regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which enforces strict safety standards for all nuclear facilities and keeps them running like new all round the year. The agency ensures that nuclear facilities comply with all environmental standards, keeping resources clean and safeguarded before any plant can operate. In the nuclear industry, compliance to a strict safety culture is not an option but mandatory. Kenya may be a failure just like any other third world country struggling to build its economic muscles. This is especially when it comes to emergency response and management of 'small' disasters or wastes but in this case, the safety culture is not a choice. All things considered, nuclear energy supports environmental stewardship and affordable energy. It gives us the ability to power our homes without emitting harmful gases into the surrounding environment while safely controlling the used fuel by-product.

Instead of fighting new initiatives for nuclear energy, we should focus on solving the real problems that prevent us from taking full use of the environmental benefits that are at disposal from the introduction and adoption of nuclear energy. Problems such as the political issues behind creating a nuclear fuel repository where we can safely house our waste and upholding the policy that prevents recycling of used nuclear fuel - a process that leads to the manufacture of nuclear weapons should be our main concerns to address the environmental issues surrounding nuclear energy.

There is no clear answer to what the perfect energy source is for us right now but it is important to note that no single energy source can satisfy our energy demands hence the reason to have a diversified energy mix. However, it is worth noting that each energy source has a limited maximum capacity of supply that can be exploited and having a diversity in electricity generation would help complement the capacity of each rather than to bring competition of sources. This is key in the Kenyan case. It is therefore important to keep a strong mix of energy sources to maintain affordability while at the same time promoting environmental stewardship in this era when the world is faced with the challenge of addressing a carbon-filled environment.

When analyzing the sources of our energy, it is important to consider the playing field and what is at stake, make knowledgeable decisions, and not allow our good intentions to lead us down the wrong path for lack of knowledge, factual information and/ or perspective. We would all wish to leave a livable country where our next generations will enjoy energy security and economic development. Let us unite to support the move towards sustainability in the energy sector. Nuclear energy has transformed super-powers like the U.S, China and the U.K. We too, can only emulate them, learn from the mistakes done by others and embrace best practices in the nuclear industry for us to reap from the safe application of nuclear technology for electricity generation.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013


After the Fukushima -Daiichi nuclear incident of 2011 which was triggered by an earthquake and a tsunami, some developed countries considered to abandon and phase out nuclear energy. But, we need to understand certain aspects behind such considerations. And Kenya cannot compare to these countries.

For example take the case of Germany:

Germany’s electric grid is interconnected to that of European Union members which is made up of 25 countries including France whose energy mix includes approximately over 70% nuclear. Germany can comfortably purchase/import electricity from France or any other neighbouring EU member countries. This means that Germany can afford to shut down all her nuclear power plants and decommission them. On the other hand, Japan cannot replicate Germany's way since it does not have the advantage that Germany has. 

Again, note that Japan and Germany generate more than 120,000 megawatts (MW) and they are both developed unlike Kenya which aims to be a middle level economy by 2030 let alone being a developed country. Perhaps it may be better to compare ourselves with countries which have transitioned from underdevelopment to development. For example, South Korea was generating 2,600 MW in 1971 but it is now generating close to 80,000 MW all due to the inclusion of nuclear power into its energy mix. Its economic development could not have been accelerated that fast were it not for the implementation of a nuclear power programme. Even if Japan was to resort to expanding other sources of electricity generation such a wind or solar, its economy can never be what it used to be when nuclear power was available.

And mark you, it is no rocket science to know that for any given country in the world, supporting a massive industrial growth such as that of South Korea or Japan requires nothing less than 'base load electricity' which nuclear plants can sustainably provide without carbon emissions to the environment. Kenya could borrow from the success stories of countries that have managed to reap from the benefits of nuclear power, at the same time taking into keen consideration the fact that it is imperative not to neglect the lessons learned from countries that have encountered struggles in the nuclear industry. Such is what would help Kenya as a country to successfully record a growing economy.