Nuclear is safest energy source 


By Connor Dalen 

The deployment of nuclear energy in Africa will be key to the fight against climate change. Nuclear fission has been used to produce electricity since the 20th of December 1951, with the Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR I) in the US producing enough electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs.  

Following EBR I, the Soviet Union connected the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant to a power grid on August 27, 1954, followed by the UK connecting Calder Hall for commercial power generation. Africa was not far behind the rest of the world when it came to nuclear energy.  

The first nuclear reactor on the African continent (TRICO I) was built in the Belgian Congo (modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) and became operational in May 1959. South Africa was the second country on the African continent to get a nuclear reactor in 1965 at the Pelindaba nuclear research facility.  

Many other African countries followed, such as Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, and Nigeria. South Africa was the first African nation to use nuclear fission for electricity generation with the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in 1984.  

 Zero Gas Emissions

This essay discusses why nuclear energy should be used to help achieve Africa’s sustainable development goals and socioeconomic advancement. Nuclear energy has no direct greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that we will see a massive decline as the electricity sector is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Africa.  

 Nuclear energy also uses far less land than all other energy sources due to its high energy density; this will preserve more nature than all other energy sources, allowing humanity to become way more sustainable.  

 The use of breeder reactors will also allow for more sustainability as more energy is extracted from the same amount of fuel. Nuclear reactors can also be used for heat in heavy industries, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the role of heat is taken away from fossil fuels.  

 This heat can be used for direct heating, steelmaking, and much more. Electricity from nuclear power plants can also be used to power electric arc furnaces, further reducing smelter emissions. The energy sector will have greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions as a result of a very drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels, which have been dominating the energy industry since the beginning of the industrial revolution.  

 As the world moves closer to its net-zero goals, all clean energy sources need to be used in order to rid the world of fossil fuel use. In recent years, the nuclear industry has been innovating to be used with renewable energy. New designs such as Terrapower’s NatriumTM reactor or the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s Micro Modular Reactor are designed to follow loads on the power grid, making these designs very appropriate for integration with variable renewable energy.  

 Baseload Power 

These designs can get rid of the natural gas power plants needed to back up variable renewable energy when the weather conditions are not ideal. Nuclear power is also ideal for integration with variable renewable energy as it operates in almost all-weather conditions 24/7/365. This boosts energy security as its output is more controlled than variable renewable energy.  

 This is also more environmentally sustainable, as fewer harmful emissions are released from the combustion of fossil fuels and much less land is taken up in producing energy, thus preserving ecosystems.  

Job Creation 

Nuclear projects create employment in many ways; the most obvious is through the staff that maintain and operate these installations. These jobs are very specialised and pay very well. This will stimulate local economies as these workers spend more money, and the more money that is transferred, the more indirect jobs are created.  

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear energy has the best-paid jobs in clean energy “creating 25% more employment per unit of electricity than wind power”, Reports from the World Nuclear Association also found that “Nuclear offers jobs with higher wages than any other energy technology, roughly 25–30% higher”.  

In a continent with high unemployment and rampant poverty, nuclear energy can help Africa alleviate poverty and grow the economy. Nuclear energy also leads to more localization, providing many more jobs than the staff that maintain and operate the nuclear power plants, as according to the World Nuclear Association, the nuclear industry creates 2.5 to 3.5 indirect jobs for every direct job created by the nuclear industry.  

 Safest Source 

There are many concerns when it comes to nuclear energy, but these are overblown. Nuclear energy is one of the safest forms of energy. According to a study by Our World in Data, nuclear energy has a death rate of 0.03 per unit of electricity, making it the second lowest death rate, with solar power having a lower death rate of 0.02 per unit of electricity production.  

The alternative to the use of constant nuclear energy and electrifying homes in Africa is using gas or wood for cooking and heating, which would cause greenhouse gas emissions, leading to more premature deaths and potential fire hazards. Many anti-nuclear energy activists will talk about the cost of nuclear installations. The capital costs are offset by the fact that nuclear installations can last for decades with very low operating costs, ultimately decreasing the cost of electricity and encouraging electrification.  

Waste Management 

Waste management is not as bad as it is sometimes made out to be; breeder reactors can use spent nuclear fuel to produce energy. There are also recycling plants, such as Orano La Hague in France, that will separate the spent nuclear fuel into its elements; this makes handling the leftover products that aren’t appropriate for nuclear power generation much safer and easier. This also creates more specialised employment that would further help alleviate poverty in Africa.  

All in all, public perception has been harmed thanks to overhyped disasters. The only way for public perception to be restored is for the nuclear industry to prove itself by innovating and proving itself in the energy industry by delivering exactly what is promised so that investors will put their money in the industry.

Nuclear energy is perfect for helping Africa meet its sustainable development goals. Nuclear energy will help Africa get access to clean energy, diversify its energy sources away from fossil fuels, mitigate the impacts of climate change, improve the socioeconomic conditions in Africa, and save our environment.  

Nuclear energy in Africa will expand the economy without releasing greenhouse gases, ultimately cleaning the air we breathe and ultimately saving lives as fewer people die from air pollution. This gives Africa a much better future going into a post-fossil fuel world. 


Orano, n.d. /country/china/en/our-stories/orano-la-hague. [Online] Available at: 

Ritchie, H., 2020. /safest-sources-of-energy. [Online] Available at:  

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, n.d. /mmr/. [Online] Available at:  

Watson, N. & Ashton, L., 2022. /newscenter/news/towards-a-just-energy-transition-nuclear-power-boasts-best-paid-jobs-in-clean-en ergy-sector. [Online] Available at: -paid-jobs-in-clean-energy-sector  

World Nuclear Association, n.d. /information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/industry/nuclear-process-heat-for-industry.aspx . [Online] Available at: r-process-heat-for-industry.aspx  

World Nuclear Association, n.d. sustainable-development-goals-and-nuclear/sdg8.aspx. [Online] Available at:  

World Nuclear Association, n.d. /information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/industry/nuclear-process-heat-for-industry.aspx . [Online]  

Available at: r-process-heat-for-industry.aspx  

International Atomic Energy Agency, 2020. /sites/default/files/20/07/research-reactors-in-africa-2020.pdf. [Online] Available at: Terrapower, n.d. /wp-content/uploads/2023/03/TP_2023_Natrium_Technology-0215.pdf. [Online] Available at:  

International Atomic Energy Agency, 2004. /newscenter/news/obninsk-beyond-nuclear-power-conference-looks-future. [Online] Available at:  

Argonne National Laboratory, n.d. /About/reactors/frt.shtml. [Online] Available at:  

Hill, C. N. (2013). An atomic empire : a technical history of the rise and fall of the British atomic energy programme. London: Imperial College Press.  

National Nuclear Regulator, n.d. /about/history/. [Online] Available at:  

Eskom, n.d. /eskom-divisions/gx/nuclear/. [Online] Available at: 

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *