Rosatom, the Russian state atomic energy corporation has advocated for an optimal energy mix for Nigeria and other West African countries for the purpose of boosting their economy, food security, medicine and environmental sustainability.
Victor Polikarpov, Rosatom Regional Vice-President of Sub-Saharan Africa said this at the West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC) held in Lagos. He spoke specifically on the importance of nuclear energy in the energy mix of the country for the purpose of improving the power supply. He said nuclear energy is a lot cheaper than other renewable energy sources that the country is looking towards to improve power supply.
Polikarpov noted that not many energy sources could bring together these three factors: economy, food security, medicine and environmental impact, adding that “hydrocarbons are economically viable but very bad for the environment, and natural phenomena can disrupt energy generation via renewables.”
Nuclear energy, he said is the only power source that is capable of ticking all three boxes and balance any energy mix. “In order to combat the current energy challenge faced by West African countries, the region needs access to affordable and clean base load power,” he said.
He highlighted that outside of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa only generates 28 GW of power which has had a severe economic impact on business development in the region.
The World Bank estimates that power outages reduce the GDP growth of Sub-Saharan countries by 2.1% per year. Less than 50% of households in Nigeria have access to electricity, on top of this, businesses in the country continue to struggle to gain access to the grid. “The country is spending huge sums of money every year to run off-grid diesel generators, which negatively affect environment”, he said.
The Rosatom boss noted that nuclear power is a reliable and an affordable source of base load power.
“If the price of uranium doubles, for instance, the cost of electricity produced by nuclear will only increase by roughly 5%, which cannot be said about conventional energy sources,” Polikarpov said.