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Ghana’s Bold Nuclear Ambition: What’s Driving the Decision?

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Exploring the Factors Behind Ghana’s First Nuclear Power Plant Initiative

Ghana is on the brink of a monumental decision: constructing its first nuclear power plant. With bids from France’s EDF, US-based NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group, China National Nuclear Corporation, South Korea’s Kepco, and Russia’s Rosatom, the country is set to revolutionize its energy landscape. Seth Kofi Debrah, director of the Nuclear Power Institute at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, explains the multifaceted reasons behind this bold move.

At the core of Ghana’s nuclear ambition are its industrialization goals, fuel constraints, limited resources, and climate commitments. Nuclear power, available year-round, offers a reliable baseload with a capacity factor of about 92%, far surpassing natural gas, solar, and wind options. As electricity demand surges—84% of Ghanaians currently have access, but many remain unconnected to the grid—the need for a dependable power source becomes urgent.

Ghana’s vision extends beyond its borders. By joining the West African Power Pool, Ghana aims to become a net exporter of electricity, providing the region with reliable, competitively priced energy. With West Africa’s average electrification rate at a mere 42%, Ghana’s 84% stands out, underscoring the potential impact of its nuclear aspirations.

A significant driver is Ghana’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. Nuclear power, free from greenhouse gas emissions, aligns perfectly with global climate goals. Currently, Ghana’s energy mix is heavily reliant on natural gas, comprising 64% of the power sector. However, domestic gas reserves are projected to dwindle by 2028, and price volatility on international markets compounds the issue.

The existing energy mix in Ghana includes 1,584MW of hydro, 3,758MW of thermal power (mostly natural gas), and 112MW of solar. Yet, renewable energy’s dependable capacity is virtually non-existent due to variability. For sustained industrial growth, Ghana requires a robust baseload, something only nuclear power can consistently provide.

Historically, industrialized nations have not relied on variable energy sources alone. They’ve utilized natural gas, coal, hydro, or nuclear as stable baseloads. Ghana aspires to follow this proven path to harness its resources and drive industrialization.

Despite financial constraints, nuclear power emerges as a cost-effective solution. While initial investments are substantial, the long lifespan (over 60 years) and low operational costs make it one of the cheapest baseload sources globally. Various financial models, including public-private partnerships, can mitigate upfront costs.

Addressing nuclear waste is crucial. Ghana already manages radioactive waste, positioning it well for future nuclear operations. Following International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines, Ghana incorporates waste management costs into the nuclear power plant tariff, ensuring comprehensive safety and regulatory compliance.

Public concerns about high-level spent fuel, which retains over 90% usable material, are addressed through reprocessing possibilities. Ghana’s proactive stance on waste management reflects its commitment to responsible and sustainable nuclear energy development.

Ghana’s journey towards nuclear energy began in the 1960s and was revitalized in 2007. Now in phase two of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s three-phase approach, the country is on track to select a vendor and prepare the site, aiming for operational status by 2030.

In summary, Ghana’s pursuit of nuclear power is a strategic move to secure reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy. It’s a bold step towards industrialization, regional energy leadership, and climate responsibility. As the country evaluates international bids, the world watches closely, recognizing the profound implications of Ghana’s nuclear ambitions.

Military

US Warns of Escalating Space Threats from Russia and China

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US Intelligence Highlights Growing Concerns Over Space-Based Weapons and Strategic Alliances

The United States is sounding the alarm over the growing threat posed by Russia and China in space, warning that both nations are moving closer to deploying space-based weapons. U.S. military and intelligence agencies emphasize that these developments could significantly impact America’s defense capabilities.

Lieutenant General Jeff Kruse, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, underscored the gravity of the situation at the Aspen Security Forum, stating, “Both Russia and China view the use of space early on, even ahead of conflict, as important capabilities to deter or to compel behaviors. We just need to be ready.”

The urgency of these concerns was amplified earlier this year when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner called for the declassification of information related to a new Russian anti-satellite capability involving nuclear weapons. While the White House has acknowledged awareness of Russia’s plans, it maintains that Moscow has not yet deployed such a capability.

Kruse confirmed that the U.S. has been monitoring Russia’s intent to place nuclear weapons in space for nearly a decade. “They have progressed down to a point where we think they’re getting close,” he said, warning that Russia is unlikely to decelerate without significant repercussions.

Despite repeated denials from Russian and Chinese officials, U.S. concerns persist. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed U.S. allegations as “fake news,” while a Chinese Embassy spokesperson in Washington accused the U.S. of using the space threat narrative to justify its own military expansion.

However, Kruse pointed to China’s rapid expansion in space as equally troubling. “China is the one country that more so even than the United States has a space doctrine, a space strategy, and they train and exercise the use of space and counterspace capabilities in a way that we just don’t see elsewhere,” he said.

General Stephen Whiting of U.S. Space Command echoed these concerns, describing China’s strategic buildup as a “kill web” in space. “In the last six years, they’ve tripled the number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance satellites they have on orbit,” Whiting said, highlighting the threat to U.S. and allied forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

The lack of military communication with China about space operations adds another layer of risk, according to Whiting. “We want to have a way to talk to them about space safety as they put more satellites on orbit,” he said, to prevent miscommunication and unintended actions.

As Russia and China continue to advance their space capabilities, the U.S. must navigate these emerging threats to maintain its strategic advantage and ensure global security.

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