With the present situation of increasing energy demand, rising energy prices and reinforcement of countermeasures for global warming, renewable energy sources have taken the spotlight. Analyzing the current economic situation in the world, it is no doubt that renewable energy sources are the best option for the country’s GDP growth and the regions’ prosperity. But can Tanzania become a leader in Africa?
Currently, energy consumption in Africa has some problems. For example, 48 sub-Saharan African countries, including Tanzania, produce about the same amount of electricity as Spain, despite the fact that the population of these countries is 18 times larger than the Spanish. But as mentioned above, the world community is interested in the production of renewable energy sources which provide electricity without giving rise to any carbon dioxide emissions. Can it be an opportunity for Africa to achieve economic prosperity?
Let’s look at Tanzania. The country has experienced strong growth in recent years. In 2018, GDP growth reached 6.5%. thanks to the high level of natural resource exports, the evolution of the tertiary sector (telecommunications, transport, finance, tourism). Despite economic growth, poverty reduction, currently about 13 million Tanzanians remained below the poverty line. 85-90% of the population is not connected to the power grid.
Currently, the country’s energy capacity is 1,504 MW from which only 5.2% is from renewables. The electricity access is about 33% leaving 7.7 million households without power. Lack of access to modern energy services creates poverty for residents due to limited production opportunities. Tanzania is aiming to achieve universal access by 2030 (one of the options the government is looking into to tackle this issue is nuclear power.
Surely, electricity demand in Tanzania will continue to rise, which means people must switch to cleaner sources of energy to reduce air pollution. This will likely require increases in all low-carbon energy sources, out of which nuclear will play an important part.
In 2018, nuclear power generated about 10% of the world’s electricity. Nuclear power reactors use the heat produced from splitting atoms to generate steam to drive a turbine. No greenhouse gases are produced in the fusion process. Nuclear power is an environmentally-friendly form of electricity generation, and does not contribute to air pollution. With the recent technological development nuclear power plants, like fossil-fuelled power plants, seem very reliable, and can run for many months without interruption, providing large amounts of clean electricity, regardless of the time of day, the weather or the season. Most nuclear power plants can operate for at least 60 years, and this contributes to making nuclear electricity the most affordable when compared to other electricity generators.
As a result, nuclear power emits a small amount of waste. On average, a reactor supplying a person’s electricity needs for a year creates about 500 grams of waste – it would fit inside a soda can. Just 5 grams of this amount is used nuclear fuel – the equivalent of a sheet of paper.
When it comes to nuclear, the more advanced the technologies are, the better is the result. That’s why Africa strives to improve its potential in nuclear technologies. Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have research reactors. They are a vital component of the societal role played. They provide neutrons to probe materials, to create radioisotopes for medical and industrial diagnostics. Research reactors also support nuclear data and improve our knowledge of the subatomic world Tanzania also plans to build a research reactor with the goal of bringing scientific exploration of nuclear power to the country by 2025. The development will be done through a subsidy from the Russian corporation Rosatom.
And it’s not just about nuclear power. There are various sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro energy. Tanzania is carrying out renewable energy power auctions which are expected to add up to 350 MW. The country is also constructing a large and ambitious 2,115 MW hydropower plant expected to be operational by 2024.
The problem of rural electrification also comes first. There are several rural electrification projects going on in the сountry in areas which have never used electricity. Currently, the Government plans to increase rural connection levels to 50% by 2025 and at least 75% by 2033. The Rural Energy Agency (REA) was established to promote, stimulate and facilitate access to modern energy services in Tanzanian rural areas.
The country is maybe taking the first steps in favor of renewable energy sources, but is at an advanced stage of uranium exploration and plans to commence mining operations at its first approved mining site. To meet its growing energy demand, Tanzania is planning to introduce nuclear power, and uranium can help it to produce electricity.
It is well known that energy consumption is one of the main indicators of the level of economic development of the country. Investing in the production of renewable energy will contribute to the development and prosperity of the country. Also Tanzania has abundant and diverse indigenous energy resources that can help the country become a leader in the production of clean energy.