Kenya confirms 2027 target date for starting construction on 1,000-MW nuclear power plant

By John Muchira in Nairobi September 27, 2023

Kenya is on track to start construction on a groundbreaking nuclear power plant in 2027, the East African nation's first, which will have capacity to generate 1,000 MW, a state offical told Business Daily.

Justus Wabuyabo, acting head of the state Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), said Kenya, following years of pre-feasibility studies, has already identified two prospective sites and intends to float international tenders for the plant’s construction in the next few years.

The entire project estimated to require funding ranging from around KES 500bn to KES 600bn (about $3.39bn to $4.07bn).

“We will do the bidding stage, as [of] anytime between 2026 and 2027 and start construction in 2027,” he told the media outlet.

“Construction ranges six to 10 years so we are looking at 2034-35 to commission the first plant.”

According to reports last spring, the Kenyan goverment plans to follow in South Korea’s footsteps by targeting 95% of its construction vendors from foreign sources, which would build, operate and then transfer the plant.

Meanwhile, NuPEA has settled on Kilifi, a coastal town, and Kwale, southwest of the port city of Mombasa, as ideal sites although a detailed scientific study must be carred out to determine the final site is in line with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirements, he said.

Kenya has been steadily undertaking regulatory reforms on nuclear energy and radioactive substances in recent years.

In 2019, the country enacted the Nuclear Regulatory Act that also sets up the Kenya Nuclear Regulatory Authority (KNRA). In 2021, IAEA gave Kenya the go ahead and set up the infrastructure needed for a nuclear power plant.

Kenya hopes the nuclear plant will contribute in diversifying energy generation mix and boost electricity supply even as it pursues ambitions to fully transition to renewables in electricity generation.

Currently, geothermal energy accounts for the biggest share of the electricity generation in the country at 45%, followed by hydro at 21%, wind at 16%, and solar at 3%, with thermal accounting for the rest.

Kenya’s quest to develop a nuclear power plant stems from the projected increase in electricity demand as the country angles to be a middle-income economy by 2030.

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