Home Environment Nuclear Energy: Zimbabwe takes one more step

Nuclear Energy: Zimbabwe takes one more step

by commuadmin

Raymond Zarurai

Hours of darkness, standstill production, odd working hours and millions of dollars going down the drains of power cables.

These are the characteristics, draining impacts of power cuts and load shedding schedules that have long affected the country’s energy supply.

Perennial challenges in power generation are attributed to decreasing water levels at Kariba Dam, recently to dam wall renovations, a series of engine failures at Hwange Power Station and also limited supply from electricity imports.

Climate issues are gripping the world. There are clarion calls for the government to use green and blue ways of power generation. China has invested a lot in subsidizing coal energy and is building coal-fire powered plants in Zimbabwe.

In a turn of events, the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 76th United Nations General Assembly said China “ will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad” in its efforts to lower carbon emission.

It is only clear why Zimbabwe is looking to tap into alternative sources of power such as nuclear energy.

History has it that for stereotypical and security reasons, most developed nations in the world were reserved towards investing in nuclear energy systems in Africa given its historical use in the production of arms in the first world countries.

It is a symbol of power. However, most African countries, including Zimbabwe have large deposits of uranium which are needed in the process of harnessing nuclear power.

South Africa remains the only country in Africa with an operational nuclear energy plant, since 1984.

Winds of change are blowing across Africa, with Russia and China heavily investing in nuclear power explorations in Africa.

Earlier this year in April, Zimbabwe signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Russian state-owned company State Atomic Energy Cooperation to explore opportunities in building a centre for nuclear science and technology in Zimbabwe.

“The memorandum seeks to facilitate a higher level of cooperation between the two countries in the use of nuclear energy, by laying a foundation from the execution of the agreed areas of cooperation,” said Minister Monica Mutsvangwa back then.

In its efforts to further align and interact with the international community on nuclear energy use, Zimbabwe has joined four international treaties under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which seeks to enforce nuclear safety and security at a Treaty Event held earlier this week at the 65th IAEA General Conference.

Handing over the legal instrument to the IAEA, Minister of Energy and Power Development Soda Zhemu said Zimbabwe has enjoyed cooperation, technical guidance from the agency.

“Zimbabwe fully supports the work of the IAEA in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, several aspects of which have been incorporated within the Zimbabwe National Development Strategy and our broader Vision 2030. The development trajectory which will lead to the attainment of upper-middle-income status by the year 2030.”

“These legal instruments embody the commitment of your country to do the right thing. We must acknowledge Zimbabwe as a nation coming to the IAEA and saying,”

The country joined treaties on the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, as well as the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

These international treaties will bind the country that it is going to be part of a system of collaboration, of cooperation in cases of nuclear accidents, international assistance when it comes to the protection of nuclear material, a notification system and waste management in universal terms.

Be that as it may, issues of public safety have always been highlighted when it comes to nuclear power, with the Fukushima disaster being the point of reference. This will be another headache for the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA)

Speaking to this publication, ZERA Chief Executive Officer Edington Muzambani said the regulator will be guided by government policy.

“Currently the Ministry is working on the policy which will guide regulatory interventions. There are not yet any nuclear energy projects for power operational in Zimbabwe,” he said.


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