Seth Onyango, bird story agency
Rwanda is looking to alter the region's energy dynamic after inking a deal with Canadian-German firm, Dual Fluid Energy Inc. to set up an ambitious, new technology nuclear reactor.
Rwanda and the company envision a homegrown nuclear reactor production line to power its sustainable energy drive amid climate change challenges.
As part of the landmark deal, Kigali, through the Rwanda Atomic Energy Board (RAEB), will provide the requisite site with Dual Fluid Energy Inc. steering the technical side of things.
"Hon. Minister Dr Ernest Nsabimana witnessed on behalf of the government of Rwanda the agreement signing ceremony between Rwanda Atomic Energy Board and Dual Fluid Energy Inc. meant to build the first Dual Fluid demonstration nuclear reactor in the world," the Infrastructure Ministry posted on Facebook.
"The government of Rwanda committed to providing the site and Infrastructure for the project while the Dual Fluid is responsible for the technical implementation of the partnership."
Founded in Canada in 2021, Dual Fluid Energy is one of scores of modular reactor projects in development, each exploring diverse approaches and fuels.
These projects were recently evaluated in a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency.
Authorities are upbeat that the experimental civil nuclear reactor launching in 2026, will help Rwanda slash its dependence on fossil fuels with wide-scale adoption.
With new partners, Kigali seems to be changing course after its 2019 deal with Russia's atomic agency, Rosatom, flopped on strong opposition over safety concerns.
Its new partnership with Dual Fluid Inc may get more support after the European Union last year classified nuclear energy and gas as clean investments.
According to the EU Commission, gas and nuclear projects will be considered green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
While the EU’s move elicited a backlash from climate activists who accuse the union of “greenwashing” dirty fuels, it was hailed as a game-changer in Africa. It potentially frees up billions of dollars of investment into the continent's nascent nuclear power sector, which has for years been deprived of funding.
Vijaya Ramachandran, director for energy and development at the Breakthrough Institute in Berkeley, California told bird that the commission’s decision was a step in the right direction but that it should be followed through with action by encouraging more investment into energy that can be fueled locally, such as natural gas.
“If the EU acts fairly, it will afford Africa a just energy transition by enabling investments in natural gas just as it does for its member countries,” she said.
“However, it may decide to follow one set of policies at home (classifying natural gas as green) while still opposing the financing of natural gas by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. If this is the case, these actions can be termed immoral and unjust; a form of green colonialism.”
According to the nuclear technical journal, Nuclear Engineering International, about a third of the nearly 30 countries exploring nuclear power are in Africa.
Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan have already assessed their readiness for nuclear programs with the IAEA. Algeria, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia are also exploring the potential for nuclear power.
Tellingly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) forecasts Africa as a future global nuclear development hotspot, aiming to establish a safe, secure, and low-carbon energy system.
bird story agency