Nuclear energy: The future of a sustainable world.
Nuclear energy is positioned as the future of a sustainable world. Image credit: 123rf.

South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society (SAYNPS) executive chairperson Israel Sekoko welcomed the strategic direction to pursue nuclear in the energy mix and put forward a proposal to build two large units.

This is in response to the department of mineral resources and energy’s (DMRE) strategic and annual performance plan that includes 2,500MWe of new nuclear.

Read more:
DMRE explores roadmap for new nuclear build in South Africa

It is understood that the DMRE is considering Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to take into account the pace and scale that the country can afford.

However, SAYNPS believes that with the appropriate finance model, the country can still build at least two units of larger reactors with a carrying capacity of up to at least 2,000MWe.

The remaining 500MWe can be allocated to SMRs, with the aim of expanding SMRs in the future, as the technology continues to develop, states Sekoko.  

SAYNPS urges the government to keep this option open as a no-regret option (in terms of proven technologies).

SAYNPS proposes coal sites for SMRs

The organisation is pleased to hear that the Minister is taking bold steps in providing tangible plans and targets on the performance of the department over the next few years.

SAYNPS suggest that the full implementation of the Nuclear Energy policy of 2008 by the department is long overdue as it will serve the full purpose of energy beneficiation while addressing the issue of security of supply.  

The society further requests the department to consider the use of “brownfield sites planned for the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations to slot in the proposed SMRs as they believe this will assist in repurposing the sites whilst maintaining the socio-economic aspects of the communities living around those sites”.

“The government must immediately accelerate the locally developed Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR) as this provides for self-reliance and creates an opportunity for South Africa to sell this technology to other countries, in particular the African continent,” SAYNPS said.

“The department has provided some clarity on the future of nuclear build programme as per the IRP 2019, the plant life extension for Koeberg, the replacement of SAFARI I by a new Multi-Purpose Reactor (MPR) and the establishment of the central interim facility for sustainable management of radioactive waste.”

The statement continued: “In the wake of COVID-19, the country finds itself in a situation whereby its dependence on international communities to provide parts, spares, equipment and even manpower has resulted in South Africa not being able to progress key maintenance to some of its plants.”

Therefore, SAYNPS is “glad that the department recognises the need for self-reliance in the utilisation of nuclear technology value chain through localisation as this will provide the much needed injection into the struggling economy of the country whilst creating jobs to millions of South Africans.”

As a way forward, SAYNPS “would like to remind the department that the involvement of the youth through the decision making process and active participation in these projects is vital to the success of this projects and the sustainability of the country”.

From our archives: In an exclusive interview with Greg Kaser, Senior Project Manager, World Nuclear Association, he expands on the newly released report, ‘Lesson-learning in Nuclear Construction Projects’.