Kenya plans to begin construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2027 as the country strives to diversify its energy production to meet growing demand and achieve its goal of zero-carbon energy.
Justus Wabuyabo, acting chief executive of the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), told Kenyan newspaper Business Day that the agency is ready to issue an international tender for the construction of either Kilifi or Kwale.
The disclosure comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allowed Kenya to proceed with the construction of infrastructure for the facilities in 2021.
“We will call for tenders between 2026 and 2027 and construction will start in 2027. Construction will take six to ten years, so we expect to commission the first plant in 2034-35,” Mr. Wabuabo said.
“We are now focusing on Kilifi and Kwale as our ideal locations. They have met most of the criteria, but before finalizing the location, we have to carry out detailed scientific studies, such as seismic tests, in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency regulations,” he added.
The facility is expected to generate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity and, if successfully implemented, will be critical in improving the economy’s access to electricity and reducing reliance on polluting thermal facilities.
The construction of the nuclear power plant in Kenya comes as the country strives to become a middle-income economy by 2030, with an expected increase in electricity consumption.
As of May, geothermal energy accounted for the largest portion of electricity generation at 45.21%, followed by hydropower (21.05%), wind (16.08%) and solar (3.92%).
In addition to nuclear facilities, Kenya needs to upgrade its power transmission system to provide reliable off-site power to nuclear power plants.
According to a collaborative study by NuPEA and the SGS Consortium, the current power grid needs to be significantly improved due to stringent safety requirements for nuclear facilities and their size.