Nuclear power will continue to play a vital role in South Africa’s energy mix, said minister of mineral resources and energy, Gwede Mantashe, while delivering his speech on the occasion of the 64th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference.
Mantashe noted that in addition to energy security, there is a bigger role for nuclear in clean energy initiatives, to transition the country from high to low carbon emissions, while expanding its power sources at the same time.
“I applaud the IAEA for the theme “Atoms for Peace and Development”, which directs us to intellectually take up the role of nuclear technology. We must educate society that nuclear is, in many ways, a technology of the future.
“In a continent like ours, Africa, where we are confronted with diseases like cancer, ebola, malaria and others, the medicinal role of nuclear is beyond question. South Africa is committed to contribute towards enhancing African development, including through the peaceful use of nuclear energy, science, and technology. COVID-19 has re-emphasised the importance of global solidarity to deal with these challenges in a collaborative manner,” said the minister.
This video expands on South Africa’s position on the use of nuclear technology.
Minister Mantashe underlined the need to emphasise the strategic importance of the balanced implementation of all three pillars of the treaty, to strengthen the full realisation of the Agency’s motto of “Atoms for Peace and Development”.
The three pillars being those of disarmament; non-proliferation and the inalienable right of all state parties to access nuclear energy for peaceful uses.
He also expressed South Africa’s support and commitment to the technical cooperation programme. “I am pleased to announce South Africa’s pledge of an amount of €234,642($275,415), to the Technical Cooperation Fund for 2021.”
Mantashe added: “We will continue to implement the country’s programme framework. The programme has enabled us to launch four new national technical cooperation projects in the areas of agriculture, health, safety, with the assistance of the IAEA.”
Nuclear power plans as per IRP
As part of implementing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019-2030, South Africa has commenced consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors to provide costing and schedule information and possible ownership models, through a Request for Information for the 2,500MW programme issued in June 2020.
Minister Mantashe said “Koeberg is one of our most reliable, efficient, safe and affordable power stations on our electricity grid. We, therefore, decided to extend the operational life of Koeberg nuclear power station by another 20 years. The technical and regulatory work has begun.
“We thank the IAEA for its support through the Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation missions on the Koeberg nuclear power plant, with the most recent pre-mission taking place in September 2019.”
The minister further noted another key project that the country has embarked on, which is the replacement and upgrade of ageing nuclear research reactor, SAFARI-1.
“Since the establishment of a Ministerial Task Team in 2019, to develop a replacement by 2030, we have approved the Project Initiation Report that recommends that SAFARI-1 be replaced with a Multi-Purpose Reactor. The project has advanced to the pre-feasibility stage,” he revealed.