The need for Nigeria to improve her power supply generation cannot be over-emphasized as the deadline for Vision 2020 looms. Speaking to journalists at the recently concluded International Conference tagged: ATOMEXPO XI, in Sochi, Russia, the Chief executive Officer, Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, Dmitry Shornikov, emphasised the need to achieve cheap, stable and regular power supply through nuclear technologies. OLATUNDE DODONDAWA reports.
What steps could be taken by Nigeria to achieve improved power supply using nuclear technologies?
The country can increase the supply of electricity, once the Federal Government takes decisive steps on the issue of providing nuclear electricity for its over 180million population. Presently, electricity availability and stability is a big issue in Nigeria. The problem is such that it is affecting the growth of the economy. There is power outage, resulting in the collapse of the economy. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is badly affected, as a result of the development. To stimulate the growth of the Nigerian economy, nuclear energy is the way out. This method of energy would improve the electricity megawatt which is barely less than 5,000MW.
What level of seriousness is expected from Nigeria?
The seriousness expected from the country is in the area of facilitating and signing more agreements regarding the production of nuclear energy. By this, the agreement with the Russian government or ROSATOM must not be a one-off thing. Nigeria must not stop at the agreement signed with ROSATOM, on behalf of the Federation of Russian Government in 2017. Though the agreement was a good one, capable of providing some levels of confidence for Nigeria, the country should try and sign more agreements to develop its nuclear energy programmes.
What are the other things Nigeria must do to provide nuclear energy?
A lot of things must be put in place by any country which is planning to go into nuclear energy production. Policies must have been formulated on the issue of providing nuclear energy by countries intending to go into nuclear energy activities. The major one is nuclear energy infrastructure. This must be put in place in order to ascertain the level of the seriousness of the public or private sector operator, which is going to produce nuclear electricity. For instance, the nation or government intending to provide nuclear energy must have taking a position on the issue, there must have been a reasonable level of involvement of the key stakeholders in the project; the legislative and regulatory framework must be intact ditto the provision of a strong human resources programme and safety issues.
Others include provision of a bigger funding and financing structures, sites for the construction of nuclear plants, among others.
What is the level of the agreement between ROSATOM and the Nigerian government on the issue?
The two parties have held extensive discussions on the issue of provision of nuclear energy for growth. The discussions between Nigerian and the Russian Government on the issue of generating nuclear energy have reached advanced stage such that the two countries hope to record success in the long run. ROSATOM is planning to build a nuclear energy resource center, a development, which would further take the cooperation between the two organizations forward soon.
Thereafter, the two parties would consider the issue of building plants of the generation of nuclear energy in Nigeria. We are confident that the partnership between Nigeria and ROSATOM on the production of nuclear energy would contribute to the improvement and sustainability of the energy mix in Nigeria.
Prior to this period, ROSATOM signed an agreement with Rwandan government to build a nuclear energy center in the country. Besides, there was an inter-governmental agreements signed with Rwandan government last year also. ROSATOM ensures that it replicates facilities in each of the countries that intend to produce nuclear energy and further record growth through nuclear technologies.
We are proceeding with negotiations and it has been very healthy; we are making progress. Rwanda is a new comer country. This means a new nuclear infrastructure has to be created from the scratch. To create a new nuclear infrastructure takes about five years.
How many megawatts can Nigeria generate with nuclear energy?
This is basically for Nigeria to decide. The reason is because Nigeria is a client to be for ROSATOM or better puts the Russian government that is generating nuclear energy. Other countries that have signed agreement with ROSATOM for the production of nuclear energy know their energy needs and go out there to meet the needs. They know the electricity megawatts they needed; so also Nigeria. What I can say is that whatever Nigeria wants, we would do our best to give the country what it needs.
Has Nigeria met some of the requirements listed above?
I understand that an agreement was signed on the issue of generating nuclear energy between the Federal Government and ROSATIOM, two years ago. Also, I know that further agreements would be reached on the issue. The country may not have met all the conditions needed to firm up a relationship with ROSATOM or the Russian government on the issue of generation of nuclear energy. However, what I can say is that discussions are on-going between the two parties and hopefully, something good would come out if it.
What efforts are ROSATOM making to ensure that people procure the technologies at cheaper rates, giving the fact that the demands for the technologies are growing globally?
Obviously, the cost of generating nuclear electricity is high because there are variables that need to be considered in arriving at the total cost of producing the energy. These variables lie in the configuration of the plant. On the issue of cost, it depends on the configuration of the size of the plant and the volume of nuclear energy expected to be generated. People tend to look at the cost of the technologies and conclude that they are huge and unaffordable.
They consider the cost of producing nuclear electricity as too high. They look at the cost from the point of view that building nuclear energy plants is demanding and requires one-off spending. But this is not so. ROSATOM has made people to realize the fact that one does not need to make huge payment either to build the nuclear plant or produce the energy. For instance, it normally takes five years to create nuclear power infrastructures and another five years to construct nuclear power plants. This implies that payment or better put funding for the nuclear power projects would be spread across 10 years. A development, which is contrary to the beliefs held in some quarters, that payment for nuclear energy plant or production is a one-off thing.