Kenya firms up plans for first NPP

6 December 2016

Kenya plans to begin constructing its first NPP at a cost of $5bn by 2021 in order to bring down the cost of electricity. The nuclear plant, due for completion in 2027, will add 1,000MWe, Nuclear Electricity Board acting CEO Collins Gordon Juma told Bloomberg on 30 November.

An unreliable and expensive power supply is cited by business as a deterrent to investment in Kenya, which generates about 2,299MWe, mainly from geothermal wells and hydro-electricity dams, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission. It intends to increase capacity to 6,766MWe by 2020.

The government has finished a grid analysis and is now carrying out a feasibility study, Juma said. It will invite construction bids after settling on a suitable technology and on the site. The government is considering both public-private partnerships and government-to-government agreements as financing options, he said.

“When we talk of 1,000MWe, we are talking half of the capacity we have right now in the country,” Juma said. “It is very expensive, so we are looking at several funding options. We are speaking to various governments.”

Kenya and South Korea signed agreements to collaborate on designing, constructing and operating nuclear reactors when Kenya’s Energy Secretary, Charles Keter, visited South Korea in September. Kenya is seeking to build a 4,000MWe plant by 2033.

Nuclear power would reduce the cost per unit to about 4-6 US cents per kilowatt-hour, Juma said. Kenya is trying to lessen its dependence on diesel-generated electricity that costs about 38 cents per kilowatt-hour. Kenyan power consumers pay an average of 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 9 cents in neighbouring Tanzania and 3 cents in Ethiopia, according to African Development Bank data.

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