Uganda maintains nuclear power ambitions

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The Ugandan government is determined to utilize atomic energy in electric power generation despite caution from scientists and energy experts.

Irene Muloni, the minister for Energy and Mineral Development Minister, restated government's commitment in a statement presented at the international ministerial conference on Nuclear Power in Dubai, UAE.

Muloni said that Uganda continues to prepare for the introduction of nuclear power as part of the diversification strategy for meeting future electricity needs for social economic development.

She said that nuclear power will have an important role in meeting Uganda's future energy deficit as the generation of electricity from renewable energy like hydropower dams, geothermal and solar among others, will not be sufficient to drive Uganda's economy in future.

She thanked the International Atomic Energy Agency for its contribution towards the prefeasibility studies for launching the first nuclear power plant in Uganda.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano said "all countries - both developed and developing - need to secure sufficient energy to drive economic growth and counter climate change."

Yukiya Amano said the use of nuclear power will be needed to provide the steady supply of baseload electricity to power modern economies if countries are to meet the goals for greenhouse gas emissions.

The conference is expected to provide a forum for high-level dialogue on the role of nuclear power in meeting future energy demand, contributing to sustainable development and mitigating climate change.

International Atomic Energy Agency said nuclear power emits virtually no greenhouse gases during operation.

It produces 11 percent of the world's electricity, which amounts to one-third of all electricity generated from low-carbon sources.

Mpetjane K. Lekgoro, the South African ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said energy security is central to economic development across the world.

He said the report published by the IAEA titled, "International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017" indicates that there are 447 operational nuclear power reactors in 30 countries, and 60 are under construction in 15 countries.

He added that the report's findings illustrate that the demand for nuclear power is on a positive trajectory thereby demonstrating that it remains a viable option for the Member States.

South Africa is one of the few countries that has an operational nuclear reactor power station in Koeberg, outside Cape Town.

South Africa made an informed decision to pursue nuclear power as part of the energy mix, through the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010 - 2030, which envisages an additional 9.6GW of nuclear power capacity.

But as the ministers meet, issues regarding the safety of nuclear power plants still remain key.

Many are taking a cautious role to avoid accidents similar to the 2011 Fukushima accidents that effects are still being felt by Japan.

There is also concern about the environment and cost implications of nuclear power plans for countries like Uganda.

Henning Wuester, the Director Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is one of those that thinks nuclear is an expensive renewable energy option.

Global installed nuclear capacity is now the highest that it has ever been at 392-gigawatt. Twenty new reactors were connected to the grid in the last two years, the highest number since the 1980s.

However, around 14 power reactors have been shut down since 2015.

Some countries have taken the decision to phase out nuclear power altogether.

The latest IAEA projections show that nuclear power's global potential up to 2050 remains high, but its expansion is expected to slow in the coming years.

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