nuclear technology

Addressing the economic benefits of nuclear power in South Africa, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, Tim Yeo, highlights that nuclear is a low carbon source of power, is a secure source, and is cost competitive.

These three elements are some of the main concerns of those with a vested interest in the energy sector, Yeo said during a televised interview with CNBC Africa on Monday.

Nuclear, a suitable baseload fuel

Adding that the country has a nuclear power station, which has been running successfully since it came into commercial operation in 1984, Yeo says that should South Africa want to deliver more sustainable electricity – low carbon sources of generation – nuclear is the most reliable one available.

This was echoed by Nikolay Drozdov, Director of the International Business Department, in an earlier statement: “Nuclear power is a reliable, environmentally friendly and an affordable source of baseload power […] that is essential to providing South Africa with the energy it needs to fulfill this potential and bring about lasting and sustainable growth.”

The nuclear industry has a history of negative PR, which has caused a wedge between South Africans around the Department of Energy’s new nuclear build programme, with concerns resurfacing around risk management and capability.

Eskom highlighted on its website that “Koeberg ranks amongst the safest of the world’s top ranking PWR’s of its vintage and is the most reliable Eskom power station.”

Driving local content

Yeo said that there is a plentiful supply of uranium locally, noting that it is a secure source – dependence on imports is reduced – removing risk of potential external foreign market disruptors.

Comparing the local automobile manufacturing industry with nuclear opportunities, Yeo said: “If South Africa choose nuclear it could do so on a contract, which ensures that the big part of the supply chain work was taking place here in South Africa, then South Africa may develop the skills and capacity to become a world supplier of nuclear components.”

Nuclear physicist and CEO of Nuclear Africa, Kelvin Kemm, said in a statement: “South Africa’s nuclear build programme will see the introduction of 9,600MW of nuclear energy into the national grid. The successful achievement of these ambitious objectives will require a high level of involvement and participation from local companies.”

He added that this programme: “offers huge opportunities for local producers and manufacturers to benefit from the construction of these plants. It is important therefore that South Africa’s government chooses an international partner for this endeavour that has an established track record of capacity building and skills development in the markets that acquire their technology.”

Cost

[quote]When developing energy infrastructure, particularly on a large scale, there are initial high costs – with several nuclear providers competing for this business in South Africa, the country should be taking advantage of this negotiating position, Yeo said.

He concluded that research shows that the country’s GDP would increase substantially should the nuclear supply chain be developed – anything from 10% or more over the life span of the nuclear power plant.

 

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