Nigeria dumps nuclear power plans

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Nigeria may have foreclosed any plans to explore nuclear energy as an alternative source of electricity power generation.

Minister
of state for power, Nuhu Wya, who gave this hint in Lagos, said the
country would explore other means of power generation in which it has
comparative advantage.

Responding
to a question at the power conference held in Lagos last week, he said
with the inherent danger in nuclear power, the country had no business
pursuing that source.

“Why
do we have to be talking about using nuclear power? If we have so many
other sources of energy that are untapped, why do we have to be talking
of one that is not readily available and is a long term development
plan? For you to put a nuclear plant and get it working, you are
talking about eight years,” Mr. Wya said.

Minister
of environment, John Odey, had said the use of nuclear energy for
electricity generation is no longer an option but a necessity, if
Nigeria is to meet her energy needs. According to him, the grid
capacity built around oil, natural gas, and hydro is not only grossly
inadequate but cannot meet the country’s current and future energy
demand.

Nuclear emergencies

However,
with this pronouncement, the government may have jettisoned the idea.
Following the earthquake in Japan, its nuclear plants, which accounts
for about 29 per cent of the country’s electricity power supply, were
badly affected, raising global concern about the dangers of nuclear
plants, especially for developing countries like Nigeria.

Though
the country has a watchdog, the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority,
which is supposed to regulate and ensure safety in the use of nuclear
energy, its state of preparedness to handle such emergencies is still
in doubt.

Mr.
Wya said the country has abundant capacity in other energy sources such
as hydro and thermal, which have not been fully utilised.

“We
have received expression of interest from firms that want to invest in
the power sector in hydro, gas, wind, coal, and solar power plants.

“We
must remember that Nigeria is gas and oil economy and already has
enough gas to potentially power the whole of Africa. In the same
manner, government has commenced effort to balance the energy needs
with the development of new sources of power from naturally evolved
resources. Already, pilot scheme for solar and wind projects are
ongoing,” Mr. Wya said.

Potential impediments

Mr.
Wya said potential impediments to the entrance of private sector
investment in every facet of the power sector will be totally
eliminated, in order to make it attractive to investors.

Chairman
of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sam Amadi,
said government would guide against the emergence of monopolies and
manipulations in the power sector once it is privatised.

“It
is normal to find collusion. A market participant can be so powerful
that it can consistently act independently in keeping price above
competitive level. Electricity market can lend itself to manipulation,”
Mr. Amadi said.

He
said the commission will strive to protect consumers while ensuring
that electricity tariff will be competitive enough to encourage
investment in the sector.

“We
will protect consumers by ensuring just and fair pricing, carry out
social policies, and prevent anti-competitive practices by active
participants,” he said.


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