Ghana, Brazil, Russia and the United States in a wide-ranging conversation with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi, have spelled out their plans for using nuclear power to help reduce carbon emission and achieve sustainable development.

This was during an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) side event at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom and the discourse was on “Nuclear Innovation for a Net Zero World”.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference while Conference of the Parties (COP) is a Conference for countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty that came into force in 1994.

The side event was in line with IAEA’s support for newcomer countries like Ghana, who are in the process of developing the infrastructure needed for a safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power programme and project. Ghana was represented on the panel discussion by the Minister for Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh.

Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (first from right) making a point on Ghana’s nuclear power plans to reduce carbon emission

In response to the status and perspective of the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh recounted the history of Ghana’s nuclear power programme emphasizing that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, about 60 years ago, had both hydro and nuclear power ambitions and while hydro power was successful the nuclear power programme did not see the light of day. He mentioned that President Agyekum Kufour reactivated the nuclear power programme and subsequent Presidents and governments have taken a step in the right direction. He reiterated the need for other baseloads, stating that nuclear power was probably the cleanest of the alternatives available. He disclosed that aside from nuclear, Ghana has a renewable energy policy to meet its Paris target. “Recently, we have started renewable and as of now about 2.4% of our energy mix is renewable. Our Paris target is 10% renewable by 2030”, he said.

Dr. Prempeh also responded to the question of whether the biggest challenge for Ghana would be financing the project or capacity building. He answered that he was not inclined to picking one over the other but the most important thing is to get it right. “Even if we have the money, we should get it right. We should have the human capacity well trained in the nuclear technology we are adopting. Once we select a country as a partner, with your support, we need to train our people in the technology available…that country needs to help in the financing issues. We have to take all the steps simultaneously”, he added.

The Director General of the IAEA expressed satisfaction with the approach to nuclear discourse, especially its contribution to climate change. “People are approaching the issue of nuclear’s contribution to climate change from a more objective perspective, with a much better disposition. We all know that without the current contribution of nuclear, the figures, the stats, the graphs would be much worse than they are. The voice of nuclear had to be heard, it’s being heard and will continue to be heard,” Mr Grossi said.

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