We had a pretty interesting conversation about the future of Nuclear Power in Nigeria.
We managed to get a hold of the rockstar, Opeyemi Odutemowo, who just recently completed her PhD in Physics from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.
She shared pretty awesome insights about why we really should take Nuclear Energy more seriously.
Pulse: It's an honour, and I swear it's not wash.
Opeyemi: I honestly didn't think getting d PhD was a biggie (all my friends have one). It just occurred to me yesterday and I literally wept! And the fact that I can perhaps be a positive influence to a girl out there is just the cherry on top. I feel so blessed.
Pulse: You have cool friends to be honest.
Opeyemi: They are all cool geeks. 3 Nigerians got their PhD in Physics at my University this year. The other two are way cooler than me! They are Theoretical Physicists!
Pulse: You guys should just start a show and call it Nuclear Fission Theory. But let's talk about Nuclear Energy. Do you honestly think Nigeria is ready?
Opeyemi: We have to be ready. There are close to 200 million people in Nigeria. It makes absolutely no sense that we depend solely on hydro power. Our population is only going to increase, so will our energy demand. We have to look for alternative ways of generating power. And nuclear is probably the best option. With nuclear, you have a cleaner and cheaper way of generating power. I hope we don't get late to the party after they have finished serving the Jollof Rice.
Pulse: People tend to have a certain paranoia towards Nuclear power. Looking at what happened in Fukushima in 2011 where the earthquake didnt spare the nuclear power plants, it's hard to convince skeptics otherwise. Others might even argue that solar energy is pretty much safer and easier to maintain, what do you think about that?
Opeyemi: People die in road accidents/plane crashes and that has not stopped us from travelling. Hydro power has killed more humans/animals than nuclear. The new generation reactors are designed in such a way that we have someting called a PBMR. With the PBMR, all the nuclear reaction is taking place within a pebble such that if there is an accident, the pebble acts as a shield that prevents the Uranium and its fission product from reaching the public
Solar is safer and easier to maintain but it is often unreliable. We have to depend on nature for steady sunlight and nature isn't to be trusted. For several years, solar physicist have been struggling to increase the efficiency of solar panels and they haven't been exactly successful. Nuclear power is a sure thing. The world has the Uranium, let's use it!
Pulse: This sounds awesome. Very. Especially that Pebble part. Steady generation all year round. Basically, Nuclear means we're in complete control of our destiny.
Opeyemi: Exactly, total control. And that is what we need. I forget to add that earthquakes don't spare dams too.
Pulse: True. In the San Adreas Movie, the dams were the first things to take a major hit.
Opeyemi: I've been a very strong advocate of nuclear power for so many years and I get a little upset when I think about Nigeria. Imagine you don't ever have to buy a generator or petrol to fuel it. Imagine if you can iron any damn time you want. That's good living. Even environmentalists are in favour of using nuclear power because there is no carbon emmision.
Pulse: Apparently, we have a nuclear regulation authority in Nigeria. They even have a website.
Opeyemi: Yeah, we do. I wrote them an email in February telling them I'm looking for employment, there was no reply though.
Pulse: So let's say Nigeria decides to invest heavily in nuclear power now, how soon do you think I can stop worrying about light?
Opeyemi: Give or take, five years.
Pulse: Thanks Opeyemi for your time. This was an amazing conversation. Please hit us up when you touch down in Motherland.