Training Kenya's Future Nuclear Power Specialists


Technical Visit to the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant (Photo: TAMU)

2014-07-31│Fellows from Kenyan institutions involved in assessing the country’s need for a nuclear power programme completed an IAEA supported training programme at the Nuclear Power Institute (NPI) of Texas A&M University (TAMU) last week. The intensive training from 7 to 25 July included two independent workshops, a technical tour to the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant, where two units are under construction, as well as meetings with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators, the World Association of Nuclear Operators, and other field visits.

Due to an increasing demand of energy and a shortage of secure, reliable and affordable electricity, Kenya is considering the development of a nuclear power programme.

Since 2012, Kenya received IAEA support under two national technical cooperation (TC) projects  (KEN2005 and KEN2006) in energy planning and for 49 fellowships in nuclear energy fundamentals.

In late 2013, the IAEA completed a review of the country’s pre-feasibility study on a nuclear power programme that identified areas that Kenya must address as it moves forward, including human resource development.

The IAEA supported Kenya’s quest to foster international partnerships that helped to build its indigenous capacity, including a strong relationship with TAMU. Held for the first time in 2012, the annual training programmes, developed by TAMU’s Nuclear Power Institute in cooperation with the IAEA, have included general training on nuclear energy fundamentals, and tailored workshops on specific issues. This year’s workshops focused on nuclear regulatory affairs and procurement issues related to new nuclear power projects.

The workshop on procurement provided the participants with an expanded understanding of procedures and approaches for procurement in the supply chain, procurement issues that must be addressed in the specific case of new nuclear power plants, services and equipment for different phases of a nuclear power programme. It presented best practices used by experienced owners and operators of nuclear power plants in Texas, as well as other key organizations in developing a nuclear capability. Case studies focused on bidding, transactions, structuring of contracts, financial risk and risk mitigation measures.

The workshop on regulatory affairs enabled the participants to gain a better understanding of the key elements necessary for an effective national nuclear regulatory authority. It involved numerous perspectives of the regulatory process, including views from the U.S. NRC Officers and Resident Inspectors, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and from two private utilities operating four nuclear power reactors.

“The collaboration with Kenya has been excellent, and we have very much enjoyed it,” said Dr Kenneth L. Peddicord, Director of TAMU’s Nuclear Power Institute. “The Kenyans who have come to TAMU for training have been outstanding. We are very excited about the possibility of further building on this cooperation in the future.”

The 2012 to 2014 training programmes were funded by the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Fund, by an extrabudgetary contribution from the USA under the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI) and by the Government of Kenya, which thereby demonstrated their national commitment to capacity building in nuclear power.

Background

The Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has proposed the potential use of nuclear energy for the purposes of electricity generation in the country’s draft National Energy Policy.  It has established the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board, which acts as the country’s Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization. Kenya is currently conducting a master plan study for energy generation and transmission mapping as well as a study on the implications of a nuclear power programme on the grid. The country is preparing to receive an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission from the IAEA in 2015, which will support Kenya’s ongoing self-assessment against relevant milestones.

The Nuclear Power Institute at TAMU develops internationally-recognized tailor-made nuclear engineering and related programmes and undertakes outreach and support to encourage young people to pursue careers in nuclear science and technology. The IAEA and TAMU are now also working together to boost the number of women who pursue scientific careers.

Related stories:

Support for Pre-Feasibility Study in Kenya, 26 Feb 2013

IAEA Director General Visits Kenya and Namibia, 20 Dec 2013

IAEA and Texas A&M Sign Practical Arrangements, 14 May 2014