The experts say nuclear energy, also called nuclear power, atomic energy or atomic power, is a form of energy that is obtained through nuclear reaction that releases heat energy which in turn heats water into steam to turn steam turbines to produce electrical power. Nuclear energy can be obtained from fusion, fission or nuclear decay reactions.
One method of releasing nuclear energy is by controlled nuclear fission in devices called reactors, which now operate in many parts of the world for the production of electricity.
Another method for obtaining nuclear energy, controlled nuclear fusion, yet to be perfected, is said holds promise.
The foregoing point tallies with the assertion by Professor Benjamin Nyarko, the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), that nuclear applications continue to contribute to meeting the development objectives of many countries in areas such as power production, human health, food production, water management, and environmental protection.
The Ghanaian Times is delighted at this piece of information because already Ghana wants to include nuclear energy in its energy mix by 2029.
Already, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the State Atomic Energy Corporation of the Federation of Russia (ROSATOM), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2015 to construct a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Ghana. The country is expected to purchase the Russian model VVER (water-water energetic reactor) with capacity ranging between 1000-1200 MW, according to the signed agreement.
When it materialises, the country would have its energy production boosted as the industrialisation the government wishes to undertake would have sustainable energy.
However, there are a few questions to be answered. One of them has to do with the stage of preparation towards the establishment of the NPP almost six years after the related MoU was signed.
The second one is the fear associated with nuclear production. Even though Prof. Nyarkoh seems to allay such fear by his statement that "the sun produces energy through fusion and the fundamental energy God created is from nuclear reaction, so I don't think anybody should be afraid of nuclear energy", this is not enough to banish such fear.
There must be sustained intensive education for the citizenry and even some well-educated people to accept the use of nuclear energy production and use because their fear is rooted in some nuclear accidents that have occurred in other parts of the world.
The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission can undertake such public education with its agencies.
Another question relates to cost of production and, for that matter, of use.It is on record that renewables such as solar and wind are relatively cheaper than the nuclear power. Are we, as a country, ready for the cost, even though countries like South Korea are massively using it?
The story, however, is that the introduction of the 1200 MW nuclear energy, if it materialises, would change the current scenario. It is said that the addition of nuclear energy to the generation mix will not only increase the installed capacity but also lead to a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases into the environment, which has a telling effect on lives.