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Green Publication Carries Surprising Coverage of Nuclear Power as Best Option for Africa

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EIRNS—A publication called Sustainability Times may not be expected to generally push nuclear power development, but it did—for Africa. In a lengthy article published on Dec. 23, the journal wrote that despite $20 billion pledged so far for renewable energy projects in Africa, “it’s unlikely that the continent’s energy needs can be met by renewables alone.” Only the combination with nuclear power would make “ the task of powering Africa’s growing economies more viable—not to mention the other useful and often overlooked aspects that nuclear can contribute to development.”

Nuclear technology provides more than just energy, the journal writes,

  • “many advanced nuclear designs produce high-temperature process heat for uses in desalination plants, chemical production and even district heating systems. These subsidiary features would allow nuclear technology to benefit society beyond the generation of electricity—and potentially accelerating its deployment.
  • “Nuclear technologies are already being used in agriculture, for example, where isotopes and radiation techniques are harnessed to combat pests and diseases or to increase livestock and crop production. For instance, farmers in Benin have increased their maize yields by 50%, while simultaneously reducing the amount of fertilizer used by 70%, thanks to the deployment of nuclear-derived nitrogen-fixation methods—the same techniques that are allowing Maasai farmers in Kenya to double vegetable crop yields with half the irrigation of traditional methods.”

Furthermore, they mention using nuclear-derived sterile insect techniques, and that “Wider applications include improving food safety by detecting contaminants in food products and beefing up traceability systems with stable isotope analysis.” While only obliquely mentioning nuclear irradiation for preserving food and medications, they include a graphic box which provides extensive details about it.

The journal mentions that according to UNESCO statistics, a fifth of the world’s population has no access to safe drinking water—a figure that’s certain to increase as populations grow and global freshwater sources decline, the shortfall in freshwater supplies hitting 500 trillion gallons per year by 2025. “In drought-stricken regions, freshwater production through nuclear desalination can be a cost-effective solution. Desalination by reverse osmosis or evaporation uses huge amounts of—often expensive—energy,” they write.

  • “By contrast, nuclear desalination could use the excess heat from new reactor designs like small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to produce thermal and electrical energy ... which then transforms seawater into freshwater. While capital costs for nuclear plants are initially high, fuel costs are low and stable: a doubling in the price of uranium would result in only a 5% increase in the total cost of energy generation. In contrast, an equivalent increase in oil would cause freshwater production costs to surge by 70%,”

the journal says.

“Developed countries with nuclear expertise could include financial assistance for such energy projects in their efforts, given that gaining access to large amounts of cheap electricity from nuclear plants that run without interruption could be the key to boosting domestic manufacturing and quality of life,” the journal recommends. As well it might: The map it shows where nuclear power is projected for African countries, shows only 7 countries, although the biggest, out of 54 nations in Africa with nuclear power projects.