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Kenya Seeks Nuclear Power Infrastructure

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the everything-is-in-limited-supply dept.

Technology 180

New submitter Snirt writes "Kenya is seeking to develop a viable nuclear energy program within the next 15 years to meet its growing energy demands. A government commission formed last year is conducting a feasibility study and the University of Nairobi is setting up programs to train people for the nuclear program. Critics say they're concerned about plant worker safety and the risk of environmental contamination. Some 86 percent of Kenyans do not have access to electricity, relying on firewood and kerosene to meet their energy needs. Electricity is expensive(1$=KES 90), and the supply is limited."

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Expensive? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635478)

A standard two room aparment here in Sweden would cost 120 KES + 2KES/KWh*2000KWh per year, that's 50 bucks!

Re:Expensive? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635486)

Ooopsie sorry that should be: 120 KES + 9KES/KWh*2000KWh, 200 bucks I wonder if you can make by with 50KWh per year.

Re:Expensive? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635514)

Any problem?

GDP per capita (PPP)
Sweden: $38,204
Yemen: $2,700
Kenya: $1,711

Re:Expensive? (5, Informative)

timnbron (1166139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635556)

My friend gets by with one light bulb in the lounge. He's usually using 1-2kWh per month. I think he's about average for Nairobi suburbia. Some households might have a TV and fridge. And a few more light bulbs on at once.

Re:Expensive? (4, Informative)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635660)

True, and in Kenya the average person spends over 50% of their income on food, which doesn't leave much for luxuries such as electricity. I am sure though, that if a nuclear power plant were built they would subsidize access to electricity to the poor. Most people in Kenya pirate their electricity as it is anyway.

Re:Expensive? (4, Funny)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635926)

You can't pirate electricity. Those electrons want to be free.

Re:Expensive? (5, Informative)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636072)

The exact opposite really: they want to fall into a lower energy state from which they cannot escape. Being free costs energy.

Re:Expensive? (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636628)

My friend gets by with one light bulb in the lounge. He's usually using 1-2kWh per month. I think he's about average for Nairobi suburbia. Some households might have a TV and fridge. And a few more light bulbs on at once.

If electricity is that expensive in Nariobi send him one of those energy efficient spiral shaped CF-bulbs or a LED-bulb. A 20W CF-bulb will give you the same amount of light as a 100W incandescent bulb and the CF-bulbs last longer. If he is using a 60W incandescent bulb now switching wold cut his electricity bill noticeably.

Re:Expensive? (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635666)

Exactly. I can't but fathom the determination of the Kenyans as they plough through their daily lives with multiple TV's, gaming consoles, computers, kitchen appliances and hybrid pluggable vehicles. I bet a sizable amount of Kenyans have a multiple kilowatt solarium installed for the days when the sun is momentarily behind a cloud.

Anyway, per the GDP your current electric bill in Sweden should be multiplied by 22.5 to make it equal to the share of the Kenyans. So yes, it's expensive.

Re:Expensive? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636778)

The electricity isn't expensive, the Kenyans are poor. Nuclear power isn't going to help here, since they already have cheap power.

Re:Expensive? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635496)

So the standard of living in Sweden is higher than Kenya?

Re:Expensive? (5, Insightful)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635604)

Care to try your napkin calculation again?

120 KES base rate
2 KES / KWh for the first 50 KWh = 2x50=100 KES
8.10 KES / KWh for 50 to 1500 KWh = 1500x8.10=11745
18.57 KES /KWh for 1500 to 2000 KWh = 500x18.57= 9285

Total cost of this hypothetical 2000 KWh /year use is: 21250 KES

21250 KES is roughly $245 US or 192 Euro

Now put that in perspective... this is a country where the average salary for an average job is about 15000 to 20000 KES per month (if you dont' believe me, then look at the job postings for Nairobi on websites such as http://www.bestjobskenya.com/ [bestjobskenya.com] You can get better paying jobs, but even top manager jobs top out around 80k/month). Imagine you were working an average job in Nairobi, and paying a little over one month of your before tax salary for electricity. Say you earn an average of about 35,000 Euro per year in Europe - then think about paying around 3000 Euro per year for your electricity. That's a significant portion of your take home pay. The same applies in Kenya. Electricity is VERY expensive relative to income... so much so that the vast majority cannot afford it, or cannot afford it except for only the most critical things (say charging a mobile phone (phones are super cheap in Kenya as is airtime) or running a single refrigerator).

Re:Expensive? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636030)

It doesn't work like that, If you can consume 2000kWh per year you live a pretty decent life, and you will make a lot more than the median family income in Kenya. But If your family do earn ~40 USD per month you can probably pay ~3 USD per year that 50kWh would cost you, that is insanely cheap. Though I'm guessing the installation price is at least 600 USD.. :-(

I have lived in similar circumstances so I do know what I'm talking about, and if you take the lowest tier 50kWh, with that you can keep you food stuffs cool for a year and get reading light.

Re:Expensive? (1)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636166)

You're right of course, but I was just continuing the napkin note calculations that the OP was using. The key point was electricity in Kenya eats up a very substantial portion of the usable income of your average Kenyan.

If you're careful and smart, you can cut usage way way way down. Charge the mobile phone once every few days... run a small efficient refrigerator, and a single light... and you're set :-) I've done it... wasn't easy, but I managed.

Re:Expensive? (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636032)

My combined fuel costs (gas and electric) in the UK was around 5% of my income after tax until I started a new job last week. That was on an above average salary as well.

Re:Expensive? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636812)

You sure it wasn't taxes? You pay about a buck a liter in petrol taxes over there, plus VAT - roughly doubles the price. I don't know about electricity - but I do know that you pay some carbon tax on that.

Proximity to Somalian pirates... Sigh. (3, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635492)

Proximity to the Somali pirates (http://www.google.com/search?q=somali+pirates)... Sigh.

How fun isn't that compared to other nuclear wielding states.

Still, "Kenya optimistic for Somali peace prospects": http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2012-01/09/content_14405037.htm [chinadaily.com.cn]

Re:Proximity to Somalian pirates... Sigh. (1)

timnbron (1166139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635562)

It's the Kenyans I'm more worried about. Too many people after bribes!

Four killed in rocket attack on vehicle in Kenya (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635706)

Bribes within Kenya is a concern. But the Somali border is even more worrying

"Four killed in rocket attack on vehicle in Kenya"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/8852743/Four-killed-in-rocket-attack-on-vehicle-in-Kenya.html [telegraph.co.uk]

"Somalia's president has criticised Kenya's military invasion of his country, raising fears of a split in support for the mission to hunt down al-Qaeda-linked Islamists"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/8848537/Somalias-president-questions-Kenyas-al-Shabaab-mission.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Still, didn't one of these East Africa countries even launch a MadMax space rocket a year ago? Which exploded right after launch?

Re:Four killed in rocket attack on vehicle in Keny (3, Insightful)

ChatHuant (801522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635772)

Bribes within Kenya is a concern. But the Somali border is even more worrying

True. Moreover, brazen attacks by Somali bandits in Kenya are scaring away the tourist trade, which makes a sizable dent in the country's finances. Tourism had already been hit by the violence after the 2008 elections, but recent events, like the kidnappings of foreign tourists in Lamu, have made it even worse. It's really a pity because Kenya is a beautiful country(*) , and it has followed a fairly responsible path of conservation and sustainable use of their natural resources (especially compared to other African countries).

(*) Seriously, if you're planning a vacation, consider an African safari. It's a very special experience. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa are good places, and the price isn't as exorbitant as you'd expect.

Feasibility study for the full process from mining (2)

mhh5 (176104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635500)

TL;DR -- what is the feasibility study going to study? Are they going to check for the possibility of tsunamis in Kenya?

Why not solar? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635506)

Solar is a perfect fit for this climate. New nuclear facilities should no longer be built and remaining facilities should be converted to solar.

Re:Why not solar? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635596)

and you're an idiot

Re:Why not solar? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635794)

I fully agree with you - don't know why you were modded down. Only retards would think that solar is any substitute for nuclear, no matter where. Only things solar is good for is some solar cooking, offsetting consumption surges, and in the long term, maybe in transportation, if solar powered cars can reduce the need for gasoline even further. But certainly not replace anything to the scale serviced by nuclear.

It's sad that Japan is ending its nuclear program. Maybe they can work out some power buying arrangements with Russia? But anyway, hope the Kenyans are successful with their nuclear program.

Re:Why not solar? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636832)

That's almost entirely backwards.

Solar will never, ever work for cars of the kind people normally drive. There's just not enough surface area on a car to collect enough power to move a modern vehicle. All solar cars are completely unusable in practice due to their complete lack of protection, accomodation or anything a normal car offers.

On the other hand, pretty much all the energy we consume (save geothermal) comes from the Sun at some point. And there's more than enough of it if it can be harvested.

Re:Why not solar? (2)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635826)

Well, I am for nuclear energy as much as you are. But I guess there is no harm trying renewable energy resources as much as humanly possible. Countries in Asia like India and countries in Africa like Kenya get huge solar energy and could start using them, with some backup nuclear plants. (I do not agree with GP that new nuclear facilities should no longer be built)

Why not both? (3, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636820)

I don't understand why this always has to be an either/or argument. Personally, I'm of the opinion that solar, wind, and nuclear all have a role to play in providing energy.

If Kenya had a small modular nuclear reactor or two, they could provide baseload power to their own country, and possibly even have enough surplus to export some electricity to neighbors (bringing net revenue to the country).

Solar and/or Wind can provide energy, but they don't really provide any kind of guarantee that you'll have electricity all the time - the Sun doesn't always shine. Yes, you can do things like molten salts to store some of the Sun's energy, but there's a limit to how much you can store. You might have enough storage to last you through the night, but will the salt still be hot enough in the morning, if it's cloudy?

Solar is a good peaking power source - the Sun's energy tends to peak around the same hours that human demand for electricity peaks (because people are doing business, and running washers, dryers, and stoves, which they don't tend to do after dark). Nuclear is a good baseload power source.

People pointing out that solar can come online faster are correct, so that's partly why I favor a combination of both nuclear and solar/wind for both developing nations, and developed nations - get the solar built quickly and start benefiting from it, while also beginning the process of building some reactors.

Definition of irony (5, Insightful)

Mannfred (2543170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635512)

The Kenyans - with ample sunlight - going nuclear, and the Germans - with a less favourable climate - hoping solar energy will help them get rid of their nuclear power plants.

Re:Definition of irony (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635632)

You can't run major factories on solar power.

Re:Definition of irony (4, Insightful)

XrayJunkie (2437814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635846)

Not yet. But in Germany we started a bunch of research programs to cope with that. Smart (grid) solutions for large industrial compounds help to use "green energy". An intelligent combination of capacitors, solar power, wind power, and so on can make a difference. And 15 years from now, we should be able to store energy better - making solar power more attractive. This is the future. Aim for it.

Re:Definition of irony (4, Insightful)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636074)

An intelligent combination of capacitors, solar power, wind power, and so on can make a difference.

so, in Germany you have super-capacitors ?

How many billion € are you spending yearly to get less than 5% of consumption from "renewables" ? How many hundreds of € are you personally paying each month to maintain the "renewables" (look at your electricity bills and fuel bills, and see how much of that is taxes ) ? ... think a bit about it and you might realize that it's just what in US is very politely called "pork": corporate welfare for the 1%-ers.

Re:Definition of irony (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636196)

If you wanted to design a country to be no good for renewables, you'd come up with Germany.

Long winter - solar's out.
Short coastline - wave power out.
Long way from atlantic - less wind - turbines out
Few mountains, mostly in one area - hydroelectric out

Re:Definition of irony (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636240)

Kind of pushes you to be creative, doesn't it?

Re:Definition of irony (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636456)

The only thing they have left is thermal (coal in the Ruehr) and nuclear, and since they've just ended nuclear, they can either contribute plenty of greenhouse gases, w/ all the coal & oil they burn, or freeze to death. Pick their poison!

Re:Definition of irony (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636236)

How many billion € are you spending yearly to get less than 5% of consumption

It's only euros. There are plenty of euros, and Germany can afford it. When the crunch comes, a mere 5% will make all the difference in the world. The Germans are being smart. They are survivors.

Re:Definition of irony (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636358)

The german solution is to build wind turbines for PR while not talking about the multiple coal plants being built at the same time.

Re:Definition of irony (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636280)

Yes you can. Concentrated solar power: 400 km^2 would power the *whole world* today. So imagine how little the Kenyans would have to build on that.
If you can build mirrors, girders, tubes and turbines, you can build them. Shit-easy to repair, dirt-cheap, only abundant recyclable resources... If I were a poor country with lots of sunlight, I'd build a fuckton of them, and export the leftovers to *everywhere*.
The only problem is with nights, since they probably can't build pumped-storage facilities because of the preciousness of water. But I heard molten salt is a good alternative.
Another nice thing is, that it doesn't have to be efficient, since there's more than enough sunlight and free space, and the plants are so cheap.

Re:Definition of irony (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636484)

Wouldn't the preciousness of water also make boiling water in those turbines a bit costly too? If you add condensers you can cut your losses dramatically, but that adds to the cost.

Re:Definition of irony (4, Insightful)

dnwq (910646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635648)

The Kenyans - who are poor and value becoming less-poor over any fears (correct or not) over long-term environmental effects, and the Germans - who are rich and value said environment comparatively highly.

Re:Definition of irony (3, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635818)

If the Kenyans build a Thorium plant, they won't have to worry about nuclear waste. Aside from that, nuclear energy is the cleanest energy there is. Such a plan would be key to getting them out of poverty - once their energy problems are all solved, they can then get into other things, like manufacturing. One nuclear plant in the West of the country would be good enough - far from Somalia/ Maybe they can even share it w/ Uganda and South Sudan, and split costs that way, if it is too expensive.

Re:Definition of irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636238)

Ya, nuclear much cleaner than sunlight. Thorium? What cave you living in?

Re:Definition of irony (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636344)

Try the pollution involved in making solar panels or solar plants.

Re:Definition of irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636478)

But it stays in China so it doesn't matter.

Re:Definition of irony (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636436)

Apparently, a very modern cave [wikipedia.org]

Nuclear energy is as clean as the sun. After all, the sun emits the same radioactivity as nuclear does - gamma rays, cosmic rays, among others, but what happens is that the higher frequency radiation converts the oxygen in the ionosphere into ozone, which absorbs gamma and cosmic rays even more. So on earth, one would get the same energy, but available closer, and the focus is less on efficiencies of panels, but more on containment of the by-products. And as I mentioned above, due to the very short half life of radium, radioactive waste is less of an issue w/ something that will be gone after 5 years, as opposed to 75000 years.

Fact remains that little can be done w/ solar energy, as of today, aside from having panels on your roof which can offset surges in consumption (like during summer, when the AC is increasingly used), some cooking and some hybrid cars that can be charged in the sun. It's definitely clean - in 30 years, there have been only 2 or 3 nuclear accidents, of which the latest was due to an earthquake, which could have destroyed anything - a thermal plant, a hydel plant or anything else built on a fault line. Doesn't release tons of smoke & greenhouse gases. Yeah, the reaction has to be contained within the reactor, but people only want/need the energy, they don't need the thorium or radium to be out on the streets once the power is produced. With solar, while much of the radioactivity is blocked in the ionosphere, with nuclear, it is contained within the reactor. That's all the difference. And one gets enough power from it to supply an entire city on the grid.

Re:Definition of irony (3, Funny)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636100)

So basically, going by current trends, by 2030, much of the Third World will be nuclear armed while the developed nations will have no nuclear capability?

viable alternatives? (1, Interesting)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635516)

With sunshine and 30C+ temperatures throughout the year, can they resort to a faster solution of power generation with solar-energy based alternatives?
Thats', of course, after they fail to find any fossil fuels in their compund..

Re:viable alternatives? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635538)

First world countries have started to flog obsolete nuclear technology to third world counties. Fire sale everybody!

Re:viable alternatives? (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635576)

What about a 1MW Cold Fusion plant?

They have them in stock, please order via this shiny new web storefront [ecat.com] after purchase please leave a comment and prefably full review about how it worked/ing, please report back! The world has to learn the truth.

Re:viable alternatives? (2)

No, I am Spratacus! (2281684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635652)

I'm already on the waiting list!

Re:viable alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635670)

What about a 1MW Cold Fusion plant?
 

Does this mean you are giving up on yourself?

Re:viable alternatives? (1)

timnbron (1166139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635586)

Could burn a few Australopithecines...

I'm guessing there's pressure on land and infrastructure - most of the electricity use is in the cities and there's not much of a power grid so big solar arrays may not be feasible. And too easy to pinch a panel or two...

Re:viable alternatives? (1)

timnbron (1166139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635598)

... if they can steal tarmac off the road to make a floor for the house, I'm sure they'll grab a solar panel and rig a car headlamp to it...

You lie! It's sad. (4, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635726)

With sunshine and 30C+ temperatures throughout the year..."

This is a lie. A big one sadly. Despite being on the equator, Kenya and other countries that the equator crosses never have temperatures beyond 30 degrees Celsius for more than 3 months in a year.

In fact for Nairobi, their capital, you will freeze at night and temps never go beyond 28 degrees Celsius for most of the day. Google Nairobi weather (I just did) and you'll find temperature now (it's almost noon there) at 23 degrees Celsius.

Why is it that most people in the west (who are supposed to be the best informed), are misinformed about Africa? Why?

This BBC link [bbc.co.uk] should help educate you to an extent.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635864)

Why is it that most people in the west (who are supposed to be the best informed), are misinformed about Africa? Why?

Good question. [fbcdn.net]

Re:You lie! It's sad. (2)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635924)

I've lived in Nairobi (NGO work) and I can confirm.. it gets quite cold at night relatively speaking.. some nights down to 10C... and 28C is a VERY typical daytime temperature... anything 30C and over... which does happen, is considered a heat wave.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636106)

Yea I lived in Nairobi for a few years as well. The temperature varies...however the sunlight is on average very intense, very suitable for solar power generation. The solar isolation that Kenya receives is very high.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (1)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636148)

True enough... solar cells are perfect for use out on the farm, off the main grid... lots of sunshine, low power demands on the farm... it's just a matter of finding some and shipping them.. oh and setting them up :-P Yay, an excuse to go back (grin).

Re:You lie! It's sad. (3, Informative)

Christian Smith (3497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636172)

With sunshine and 30C+ temperatures throughout the year..."

This is a lie. A big one sadly. Despite being on the equator, Kenya and other countries that the equator crosses never have temperatures beyond 30 degrees Celsius for more than 3 months in a year.

In fact for Nairobi, their capital, you will freeze at night and temps never go beyond 28 degrees Celsius for most of the day. Google Nairobi weather (I just did) and you'll find temperature now (it's almost noon there) at 23 degrees Celsius.

Probably more to do with Nairobi's elevation. Nairobi is quite a way above sea level, the air thinner, and therefore not retaining as much heat as at sea level. But as solar cells or solar heating devices rely on solar radiation, rather than the resulting ambient heat, solar devices would be very effective nonetheless.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636580)

Being curious, I looked [wikipedia.org] it up [nairobicity.go.ke] : 1661 m, or a shade above one mile. So, yes, it'd have an effect.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636540)

Despite being on the equator, Kenya and other countries that the equator crosses never have temperatures beyond 30 degrees Celsius for more than 3 months in a year.

So much the better: power plants based on thermal cycles (so, 90%+ of all electricity generated worldwide) require large, relatively cold heat sinks to drive the thermal gradient and dump their waste heat. Solar panels operate more efficiently when they are cold. In short, a temperate climate works in your favor, compared to a roasting hot one.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636592)

Why is it that most people in the west (who are supposed to be the best informed), are misinformed about Africa? Why?

3 big reasons:
1. Most have never been there.
2. Thinking about the damage that Europeans and Americans have done to Africa would challenge the belief that those societies are morally good.
3. It's hardly ever taught, at least in US schools.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636650)

With sunshine and 30C+ temperatures throughout the year..."

This is a lie. A big one sadly. Despite being on the equator, Kenya and other countries that the equator crosses never have temperatures beyond 30 degrees Celsius for more than 3 months in a year.

In fact for Nairobi, their capital, you will freeze at night and temps never go beyond 28 degrees Celsius for most of the day. Google Nairobi weather (I just did) and you'll find temperature now (it's almost noon there) at 23 degrees Celsius.

Why is it that most people in the west (who are supposed to be the best informed), are misinformed about Africa? Why?

This BBC link [bbc.co.uk] should help educate you to an extent.

You're dead wrong about temperatures. Most of Kenya is arid and daytime temperatures in some areas frequently approach 40 degrees Celcius in areas such as the Chalbi Desert, Magadi, and the North-Eastern province. Nairobi's weather does not represent the entire country's. Get your facts right, read more about our country before you post.

Re:You lie! It's sad. (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637010)

Go look at the weather in The rest of the country (say, Mombasa) before you get high and mighty. Nairobi is the capital because it had a climate that Europeans found comfortable when they were looking for a place to put their administration.

At least somebody is making sense (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635550)

At least some people see what's going on and what must be done, and those who talk about energy independence and those who talk about the environment cannot escape the reality - nuclear is the way forward and the way to achieve it is to do a lot of it, so that more experience can be gained and more new technologies can be worked on and eventually we must have our nuclear powered cars.

Re:At least somebody is making sense (4, Insightful)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635630)

Agreed, except that your nuclear-powered car is already here today and it is called "electric rail".

Re:At least somebody is making sense (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635708)

I am not hauling train cars and I like to drive from point of exit to point of destination, so no, there is no 'electric car' because there is no infrastructure. I want a nuclear powered car, independent of the grid.

Re:At least somebody is making sense (1)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635810)

It won't happen unless some kind of Mad Max crisis comes along.
As of now multiple countries are giving up nuclear power PLANTS and TSA molesters are checking people boarding BUSES and you think they'll let anyone have a cheap portable nuclear reactor capable of 100 mph+ ?
Now that we're dreaming I remember I wanted my flying car too (probably a transporter would work just as well). And a holodeck, yes, that would help!

Re:At least somebody is making sense (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635890)

I'd love there to be cars that are powered by Thorium - there was some article on that sometime ago on /. Also, if one makes a hybrid of such a Thorium car w/ solar, one can be totally off gasoline. Thorium is available in the US, Australia, India and I think Brazil, while silicon for the solar is....

Plus, radioactive waste is not an issue w/ Thorium the way it is w/ Uranium. Problem was that Uranium's by-product is Thorium, which has a half-life of 75,000 yrs, which is why Yucca Mountain is such an issue. With Thorium 232, which is almost all of naturally occurring Thorium, the by product is Radium 228, whose half life is 5 years. If a nuclear plant can find an use for Radium, then it solves the waste problem entirely, since the next by-product would be Radon, which is a gas.

Oh, and unlike Uranium or Plutonium, Thorium cannot be used to build nukes. Early Hydrogen bombs did have Radium casings, but not the latter ones.

Re:At least somebody is making sense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635976)

right, and it's not going to happen until the people take the freedoms back from government officials and start investigating in this area due to a possible payoff. Anybody coming up with a workable solution will become wealthier than all people combined.

Re:At least somebody is making sense (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636186)

Countries like India & Kenya will have to demonstrate its feasability, since in the US, it's more likely than not to be hamstrung by activists determined to convince sheeple that nuclear == Fukushima or Yucca mountain or WMDs or war.

However, problem is not freedom from government officials. Problem is that a majority of people, if offered the chance to vote on this on ballot propositions in any state, will heavily vote it down. People ain't going to hear Thorium or anything else - all they'll hear is nuclear, associate it w/ the above, and pull the lever against it. And when that state experiences rolling blackouts, they'll go on a crusade or jihad against the power companies.

Re:At least somebody is making sense (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636464)

So much stupid...

Fissioning thorium produces a wide range of radioactive daughter elements just as fissioning uranium and plutonium does. Radioactive decay is a different process -- it produces little energy in comparison and is only used in RTGs for spacecraft and other low-power applications.

As for non-proliferation the proposed liquid-fluorine thorium reactors (LFTRs) have to continuously process the fuel stream to prevent it creating U-233 which works fine as a nuclear weapon core. The other thorium reactor designs as proposed by India and other countries are basically the same concept as existing uranium and MOX-fuelled reactors except that they NEED highly-enriched uranium and/or plutonium to produce enough neutron flux to fission the thorium fuel which is not self-sustaining or at least not self-initiating.

Geothermal (1)

JReykdal (637757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635574)

Kenya has geothermal power plants already so they might want to look further into that.

Isn't it obvious? (4, Funny)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635600)

They're using nuclear power as a front for developing weapons of mass destruction

Re:Isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635916)

They are neither an Islamic nor Communist country, so who are their enemies?

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636110)

TIA. Minority tribes in their country perhaps?

Re:Isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636220)

White people.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636252)

They are neither an Islamic nor Communist country

Yet. Give the CIA some time.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636466)

They are trying to get out of poverty- thats classic post colonial nationalism - making the West pay more for needed cheap raw materials.
CIA backed coup in 3,2,1...

Go Solar (2, Informative)

mark99 (459508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635626)

Kenya should probably go solar since it scales better at the small end, requires less transmission infrastructure. It is interesting that it doesn't seem to have much more sunlight than many American cities, at least according to casual web search:

      http://www.climatetemp.info/kenya/ [climatetemp.info]

      http://www.currentresults.com/Weather/US/average-annual-sunshine-by-city.php [currentresults.com]

Re:Go Solar (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635758)

Those links don't include anything about the intensity of sunlight, which is a very important factor in generating electricity from solar. They probably can generate more electricity per acre than US cities that have more clear hours of sunlight.

Re:Go Solar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636400)

Having spent a lot of time in Nairobi, I find your ignorance apalling. Solar power is only viable with massive subsidies in the 1st world. Nuclear can be done a lot less expensively, particularly if your TCO figures don't include insurance.

Well then... (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635646)

It's a good thing that Slashdot told us that Android Phones Sell Like Hotcakes In Kenya [slashdot.org] . As a firm believer in press releases, I for one welcome the use of firewood for recharging smartphones twice a day...

Re:Well then... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636014)

It's a good thing that Slashdot told us that Android Phones Sell Like Hotcakes In Kenya [slashdot.org] . As a firm believer in press releases, I for one welcome the use of firewood for recharging smartphones twice a day...

You laugh but...

here's a wood camp stove that charges USB devices. [biolitestove.com]

The issue is infrastructure (5, Informative)

solarissmoke (2470320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635682)

The sun is not our only asset. Already a significant proportion of our power comes from hydroelectric and geothermal plants, and there is scope for (and investment happening in) much more.

The biggest problem we face is not sourcing energy, but in dealing with the huge inefficiencies and rickety infrastructure that we currently have. Here in Nairobi have power cuts several times a week (not because of lack of supply, but because of regular failures in the poorly maintained grid). As it happens, the transformer right outside my home has exploded (literally) and been replaced four times in the last three months. Most businesses in Nairobi have invested in back up generators because the supply is so unreliable.

One major obstacle to real improvement is the fact that the Kenya Power and Lighting Company operates a monopoly on electricity sales in Kenya, and there is no incentive for it to reduce costs and improve infrastructure. They posted record profits in 2011, at the same time as electricity prices in the country reached record highs.

Re:The issue is infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636076)

E.g. solar would not require additional transfer capability and not suffer losses due to network resistance, unlike old fashioned mega-solutions, like nuclear. Nuclear is never feasible without massive subsidies, never has been and probably never will be.

A Kenyan perspective (5, Informative)

jmugambi (853089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635686)

Energy is VERY expensive in Kenya, and unfortunately so (calculations given are realistic). There are reasons to this, and the situation could be better. Would love it if our Government go solar over nuclear (alot of the country has suitable weather). I don't quite trust the current structures in place - especially regarding adhering to standards rules regulations etc. Not sure though if any other source of energy will meet the obvious needs. Most energy needs are concentrated around Nairobi (capital) and other major towns. Much of rural Kenya has no electricity. For domestic use, I would think solar is ideal especially in areas outside of the grid, just that most cannot afford the components. I'm not sure if many here quite grasp the meaning of living below the poverty line. Yet others in rural areas may not see the use of having energy for say a washing machine or microwave in their homes unless (1) they see the need for it, and more importantly (2) they can afford it. Proximity to Somalia: peace in Somalia would be hugely beneficial to the region, what with the piracy, and the threat of terrorism one would be understandably be nervous. Now replying to some of the spicier remarks: "... if they can steal tarmac off the road to make a floor for the house, I'm sure they'll grab a solar panel and rig a car headlamp to it... " Not quite practical - stealing tarmac - just think about it (and some of the roads are so bad there's no tarmac to steal anyway). However, solar panels do get stolen... "They're using nuclear power as a front for developing weapons of mass destruction" - As a country that has suffered a terrorist attack on more than one occassion, why? In bad taste this. (Kenyan)

Re:A Kenyan perspective (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635792)

"They're using nuclear power as a front for developing weapons of mass destruction" - As a country that has suffered a terrorist attack on more than one occassion, why? In bad taste this. (Kenyan)

I think this is a joke aimed at percieved US paranoia and not at Kenya, ie., the idea that any country outside the "first world" that is interested in nuclear power must actually be hiding a weapons development program

Re:A Kenyan perspective (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636140)

The article mentions the Kenyan people are concerned about the risks of nuclear power. Not surprising at all after the Japanese accident this past year.

Have they considered partnering with anyone to develop and deploy some of the non-uranium technologies that are being developed by companies like Fuji with their work on Thorium Molten Salt Reactors? It's a much safer design than uranium systems, and proven to work in the 1960s. I don't know how close Fuji is to shipping them, but maybe they're close enough to establish an early-adopter partnership and get a little free advertising for the first deployment or two while doing good for the needy people of Kenya.

Just a thought.

i second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635712)

Gotta love de idea. known risks manageable. Africa let's pool resources. build massive nuc power plant in KE (prefer desert country) and share the energy (KE lies in rift valley, quake prone)

Nuclear is most expensive option (3, Insightful)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635748)

if Kenya wants cheap electricity, then nuclear is the worst option. It only appears cheap because of massive government subsidies.

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists:
"Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away"
http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-subsidies-report.html [ucsusa.org]

Re:Nuclear is most expensive option (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636050)

How does this differ from the subsidies given to green alternatives such as wind and solar? Power generation infrastructure is expensive and subsidy is the only way to move away from the cheaper fossil fuel methods.

Re:Nuclear is most expensive option (2)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636300)

> How does this differ from the subsidies given to green alternatives such as wind and solar?

they are much larger and more hidden

Germany's or Japan's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38635754)

why don't they just take Germany's or Japan's reactors off their hands? I'm sure, on the German/Japanese side, shipping a plant is cheaper than safely neutralizing and decommissioning it, and on the Kenyan side paying them for the trouble of doing so is surely far cheaper than developing a nuclear power plant from scratch.

Perhaps they don't want old tech? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637038)

I don't really know for sure, but I suspect that Kenya and other developing nations might want newer, cheaper, safer, more efficient technologies, such as the small modular reactors which should start coming on the market in 10 or 20 years.

There's a quote from Al Gore to the effect that the problem with nuclear power is that it only comes in one size - extra large. That is how our current nuclear plants are built: $3Bn - $10Bn (the range reflects that construction costs are different in different countries - China is building reactors for about $3Bn, and I bet the chinese might end up building reactors in Africa) reactors that produce 1GW or more.

That reactor from Japan might be 800MW or 1GW, and might be "too big" for Kenya's current and near-future needs. They might prefer a 150MW small modular reactor which costs a fraction of the price, and is based on safer technology (like High Temp Gas-Cooled Pebble Bed reactors, which China has been doing R&D work on: http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/china-210-mwe-pebble-bed-reactor-starts.html [nextbigfuture.com] ).

1 Kilowatt per child? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38635876)

Maybe we should start sending folks in Africa electricity, instead of gadgets that use electricity?

Re:1 Kilowatt per child? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636214)

Great idea, does anyone know how I can fax them some?

African Space Program (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636036)

In a previous post I made an erroneous referral to an East African space program - http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2610112&cid=38635706 [slashdot.org] .

Now I recall it was from the Congo - http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=591_1249254184 [liveleak.com] . Strangely, this has not been reported by Slashdot.

At least one rodent still is missing in action.

Nuclear proliferation in action... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636078)

/sarcasm on

Ok so when is the US going to declare war on Kenya ?
We can't have those african bastards have access to nuclear technology.
God only knows what they would do with it.

Could come in handy (1)

Slashfart (2456306) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636418)

I want one to. Plated in rhodium of course.
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