Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 February 2012 – The government of South Africa will have to make a decision soon on whether or not to build the country’s next nuclear power station.
Making this statement here, energy minister Dipuo Peters emphasised, however, that the country’s nuclear power programme would also include a supply chain for nuclear fuel. For this, a uranium converter plant and a uranium enrichment plant would have to be constructed, Peters told the Africa Energy Indaba in Sandton.
“Obtaining nuclear power fuel is a key question, and government is focusing particularly on obtaining sources of uranium, the development of a uranium converter plant, a uranium enrichment plant and a plant for manufacturing nuclear fuel,” she said.
The process should have been started last year already, but after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan it was important for the government “to go back to the drawing board and take another look at matters concerning safety, and especially at issues relating to construction design”, Peters added.
“When we had learned what we could from the lessons of Fukushima, we realised it was not so much a matter of the technology used, but the engineering services used in a nuclear plant.
“The fact that we weren’t able to reach a decision last year means that our programme is behind schedule. However, the first units must be in operation by 2024,” she insisted.
The initial date in the national resources plan is 2023. In terms of this, the country must be generating about 9,600MW of electricity at nuclear power stations by 2030 – which means that at least two nuclear power stations must be completed by 2030.
Peters pointed out that the country had a serious shortage of skills for a nuclear power industry.
“It’s clear that we will have to develop a strategy to obtain the skills to support the entire nuclear power programme. “This includes skills in the construction of plants, the operation of a nuclear power plant, regulatory skills, decommissioning skills and the management of radioactive nuclear waste,” she said.