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Executives of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, will gather this month in South Africa to address worldwide experience with nuclear power and building local supply chains.

The conference will focus on the downstream opportunities for local economies through the construction and fabrication of nuclear assemblies and components, the atomic firm said in a company statement.

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.”

Rosatom punts nuclear baseload

[quote]Confident that South Africa is geared to develop nuclear technologies, Nikolay Drozdov, Director of the International Business Department, said in a statement: “Remember that nuclear is not a new technology for this nation, South Africa has the advantage of more than 30 years of commissioned nuclear energy generation through Koeberg.”

Drozdov added: “South Africa is a country with ambitious development targets and massive economic potential.   However, the realisation of these goals is fundamentally dependent on the attainment of energy security.

“Nuclear power is a reliable, environmentally friendly and an affordable source of baseload power that Rosatom believes is essential to providing South Africa with the energy it needs to fulfill this potential and bring about lasting and sustainable growth.”

Nuclear debate in S.Africa

Over the past year, a wedge has been driven between South Africans around the new nuclear build programme, with concerns resurfacing around risk management and capability.

In February, President Jacob Zuma highlighted in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), that the nuclear energy expansion programme will remain part of the future energy mix.

“Our plan is to introduce nine thousand six hundred megawatts of nuclear energy in the next decade, in addition to running Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.”

He said: “We will test the market to ascertain the true cost of building modern nuclear plants. Let me emphasise that we will only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford.”

These developments were further stressed during finance minister, Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech, where he commended Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson for her efforts and involvement with the preparatory work for investment in nuclear power.