Engineer Kicks Against Nuclear Energy

From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
A celebrated Engineer, Ing. Robert Woode, has kicked against the possibility of Ghana resorting to nuclear energy as a long term solution to the country’s power crisis.

The 76-year-old engineer contends that the resort to nuclear energy, in the current geopolitical condition, would not be a viable option for a developing country like Ghana.

The occasion was the 2 nd Research Conference, organised by the Kumasi branch of the Ghana Science Association and College of Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Ing. Woode opines that it is too late for the country to consider nuclear energy as an alternative source of power supply, considering the fact that the issue had globally assumed a political dimension.

According to him, nuclear energy had almost outlived its purpose, and that countries with the technology were considering destroying them, in order to concentrate on orthodox power supply because of the political and technological complexities involved in nuclear energy supply.

He noted that resorting to orthodox sources of energy supply, such as biogas, biodiesel, solar and hydro amongst others, were far better options than nuclear, though the latter was cheaper than the former.

Ing. Woode observed that in the case of Ghana, it was too late for us to be thinking about nuclear energy, when we failed to make good use of the opportunity when the Atomic Energy Centre was established by Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, 50 years ago.

According to him, Ghana dreamt of nuclear energy when a country like Iran had never thought of it, but within the spate of 20 years, Iran had been able to explore nuclear energy to the benefit of its economy.

‘When Dr. Nkrumah established the GAEC in 1963, the idea at that time was to explore the possibility of using nuclear energy to power and develop the country’s energy, but I can tell you that under the current dispensation, it is no longer economically viable to adopt nuclear as a major power supply,’ he contended, and called for more debate on the issue.

Answering a question posed by The Chronicle on the possibility of Ghana going nuclear, after delivering a paper on ‘Identification of Potential Energy Source in Ghana and their Contribution to solving the current Energy’, Ing. Woode said the country would not have been experiencing the current energy crisis if past governments had religiously followed the plan and policies laid down by the late Dr. Nkrumah.

Expressing regret at the lackadaisical way the government was handling the energy situation, Ing. Woode cautioned that the country’s economy risked being plunged into more serious destruction if the current crisis persisted.

‘It is unfortunate that Ghana, after 55 years, is crying over a simple issue of energy supply, when there are various alternative sources which we could have been exploited,’ Ing. Woode noted, while weeping.

The 76-year-old scientist, who gained the accolade ‘Crusading Engineer’ because of his long campaign for the use of local scientific technology, stated that his heart bleeds for the current generation, because of the dangers ahead.

‘I am almost nearing my death, and my heart is heavy for you up and coming graduates, because the challenges are numerous, and your governments lack the kind of leadership required to take bold initiatives that will inure to the benefit of this country,’ he lamented.

He said the development of every country depended on the nature of its power supply, stressing that Ghana needs uninterrupted, but reliable low cost power policy on conservation of energy saving programmes, through the use of wind towers, construction of more turbines, transformers, solar, and generators that provide sustainable power supply.

Ing. Woode, therefore, called for an enactment of law to ensure that solar water heating systems are installed on all new buildings and industries, so that the energy used in heating water for home and industrial purposes could be supplied using solar.

‘According to research, 57 hours of sunlight energy is enough to power the world for one year, and Ghana is endowed with so much sunlight, so why not use it to our benefit,’ he posited.

He lambasted leadership of the country for failing to invest in science and technology, a situation, which he said, had been the bane of the nation’s economic problems.

Ing. Woode said lots of research works into alternative power supply conducted by so many scientists in the country had gathered dust on shelves, because successive governments lacked the political will to implement them.

‘How can a developing country like Ghana invest less than one percent in science and technology, and expect to develop; no country can develop without the involvement of the scientific community,’ he observed, and recommended that an institution like KNUST should be supported to engage in finding solutions to our energy and technological challenges.