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Kenya has awarded a Chinese firm $500,000 million contract to conduct a 2-year study on a 1,000 MW nuclear plant site

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  • Kenya is planning to build a nuclear plant in the next 8-10 years and has contracted CNNC to determine the most suitable location in the country in an ambitious two-year Site Characterisation study.
  • CNNC claims all the 29 Kenyans graduated with Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from top universities in Korea, China and Russia. 
  • The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) formerly Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), says it has already identified three ideal locations for the nuclear plant.

A Chinese firm – China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) – contracted to build Kenya’s first nuclear power plant has claimed it has trained 29 Kenyans on nuclear energy as the country moves to set up a nuclear plant.

CNNC claims all the 29 Kenyans graduated with Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from top universities in Korea, China and Russia. 

Kenya is planning to build a nuclear plant in the next 8-10 years and has contracted CNNC to determine the most suitable location in the country in an ambitious two-year Site Characterisation study.


China National Nuclear Corporation. (China Daily)

The Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana are currently the top contenders for hosting the first nuclear power plant expected to cost Kenyan taxpayers Sh1.5 billion ($15 million).

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) formerly Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), says the state body zeroed in on the three locations due to presence of plenty of water.

Currently, we have zeroed in at the coast along the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana as the most ideal sites. We have excluded the Rift Valley because we need enough water to cool the plant,” Mr Collins Juma, the NuPEA chief executive said.

Mr Collins Juma, the NuPEA chief executive.


Mr Collins Juma, the NuPEA chief executive.

Also read: East Africa now stuck with too much idle electricity

For the service, CNNC will be paid Sh50 million ($500,000) as consultation fee.

However, as the agency moves to set up the nuclear power plant with a 1,000 megawatt (MW) capacity by 2027, there is growing skepticism that the country does not need a nuclear power plant.

The Energy ministry has always argued that the country should only turn to atomic power when it has fully exploited other sources of energy.

Currently, hydropower accounts for 35 percent of Kenya’s electricity generation, with the rest coming from geothermal, wind and diesel-powered plants, according to the energy ministry.

Also read: Kenya turns down bid for Africa’s largest wind power plant

Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake


Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake

In 2017, Kenya was ranked third globally in geothermal energy capacity and number one in Africa by the Renewables Global Status report.

Kenya completed a 29 MW addition at the Olkaria III complex in 2016, increasing the facility’s capacity to 139 MW. At year’s end, Kenya’s total operating capacity was about 630 MW,” the report says.

Plans to develop a 1,050-megawatt coal-fired plant in Lamu Island using funding from China, hit a snag after the high court ordered the plans to be immediately halted for lack of public participation. The case was brought forward by local and international environmental activists.