Published on 06th August 2021
The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) and the Ministry of Power, is now finalizing preparations to integrate nuclear power into Nigeria's national grid with the Russian Federation.
The conversation also includes the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning on how to fit the feasibility study of the proposal into the NAEC's 2022 budget.
Prof. Ahmed Yusuf, the Commission's Acting Chairman, made the announcement at a press conference in Abuja on Russian-Nigerian Nuclear Cooperation for Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power. When President Muhammadu Buhari visited Russia in 2019, he reportedly proposed the peaceful deployment of nuclear energy in Nigeria.
He went on to say that a Russian delegation led by Ryan Collier, Vice President of JSC ROSATOM, had come to Nigeria to further discussions on nuclear and other renewable energies in the country's energy mix.
His words: "We have discussed with the Federal Ministry of Power what we intend to do and how we intend to it so that they can factor it into their (Power Ministry) energy Master Plan and energy budgeting. "In order to know that Nigeria energy mix or what we call energy basket will now compromise of renewable, bio and including nuclear. "This is one is one aspect we discussed with the Federal Ministry of Power so that they can factor in the nuclear component in the National Energy Budget." The NAEC boss further revealed that the visit to the Ministry of Power was to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance to identify if the national grid has the capacity to accommodate what nuclear will contribute. He said, "The second aspect is our infrastructure in the energy industry. Electricity grid is very important then if we are going to contribute to the national grid do we have the capacity at the national grid to accommodate what we are going to contribute." We have discussed with them to know exactly what are our plans and how many nuclear power plants we intend to integrate and their capacity."
Grid expansion to support nuclear energy generation is also being discussed, according to Yusuf.
"We are working together, identifying our grid capacity and expansion required in our grid before accommodating this kind of activities. The commission and it's Russian Federation, according to him, have requested the Ministry of Power to assign its staff to work with the team on how to factor nuclear into Nigeria's energy mix. "We are asking them to identify their technical people that will work with us and we will work with the Russian Federation to identify how we are going to expand the national grid to accommodate the nuclear that we are envisaging." On the team's visit to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the NAEC boss revealed that since the current budget envelope of the commission cannot carry out the feasibility study for the nuclear project, the team had a recourse to the finance ministry. He pointed out that the there was no discussions on funding neither did they sign any agreements to that extent. The chairman, however, disclosed that the ministry has accepted to accommodate the feasibility study plan in 2022 budget.
His words: "The discussions we had with them was to see how we can integrate our next year feasibility study into the national budget. "As you you are aware, MDAs have budget ceiling and the cost of the feasibility study cannot be accommodated in the regular budget of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission. "And if we want to do this project in 2022, there is no way you can do it without budgetary allocation and appropriation." Now that we are preparing for 2022 budget we have to discuss with the Ministry and inform them the role this feasibility study can do in the nuclear." That is why we have interfaced with them and they have agreed they are going to find a way of integrating that into the budget of NEAC as a kind of opening up on the envelope to accommodate this kind of activities. "There are no contractual discussions of funding for now. We have not discussed the funding mechanism for now. "The Federal Ministry of Finance or the Federal Government of Nigeria has not committed itself to funding for now so the cost has not yet be identified." Asked why Russian is mulling the plans of building nuclear plants in Nigeria when other countries are phasing them out, Collier said it was only a misconception that nations were exiting nuclear energy use.
He claimed that ROSATOM was now working on the construction of 35 nuclear power facilities in 12 nations. He stated that the world is now realizing that nuclear power is a critical technology. He urged Nigeria to consider future energy options that include nuclear power as a foundation.
Collier said: "You can produce a large amount of energy with a very small landmass and zero carbon dioxide emission." And we are also developing technology where nuclear will be seen as a renewable energy. There is a misconception about nuclear and nuclear energy industry. "That is one of the tasks we have to work with. And the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission is actually educating the public and in Nigeria about nuclear energy and its advantages. We know that Africa (Nigeria) has huge potential."