NEWS & ANALYSIS

SA committed to use of nuclear power - Dept of Energy

Agreement signed with Russia just one of a number to be signed with vendors

South Africa's nuclear new build programme

01 Oct 2014

In accordance with the Nuclear Energy Policy for 2008 as well as the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-30 (IRP), Government is committed to an energy mix that includes nuclear, coal, gas, solar, wind and hydro. Since the promulgation of the policy, and the IRP, efforts have been undertaken to hasten the implementation of this energy mix given the energy constraints that we currently face

The aim is to put the country on a path where we have energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, higher rates of economic growth, job creation and an ability to attract more investors.

This year an Energy Security Sub-Committee of the Cabinet was created from the National Nuclear and Energy Executive Coordination Committee (NNEECC), Chaired by the President, and comprising of relevant Ministers. The work of the Sub-Committee focuses on the rapid implementation of decisions to achieve the energy mix.

Currently, South Africa generates 5% of our electricity from nuclear power, from the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant near Cape Town.

In this regard Government has reiterated that, in line with the IRP, we will add an additional 9,6 GW of power from nuclear energy.  To achieve this we will commence with the rollout of new nuclear build pogramme. A comprehensive new build programme should contribute to the industrialisation of the country, re-development of our nuclear industry, the creation of jobs, development of skills, and technology transfer.

At the centre of the new nuclear build programme will be a concerted localisation plan that will ensure that existing South African industry participates to the maximum extent. Goods, services, and expertise for the construction of new nuclear power stations should be drawn as much as possible from South Africa.

The government is committed to ensuring that the new nuclear build programme is undertaken in a fair, competitive and cost effective manner. Future generations of South Africans should not be left indebted due to decisions taken today. Instead the new nuclear build programme aims to guarantee the future prosperity of South Africa.

To date, over the past three decades South Africa  remained the leader in the cutting edge research and development on nuclear technology. Our SAFARI-1 Research reactor at Pelindaba, maintains an impecable safety and environmental record, and has ensured that we remain the leader in the production of medical radioisotope that we supply to the world market. The reactor is also utilised in neutron activation analysis, neutron beam-line research, neutron transmutation doping and various academic programmes.

During November to December 2013 a delegation led by the former Minister of Energy visited nuclear vendor countries around the world to begin exploratory talks about their experiences, and the potential support they could give to our new nuclear build programme.

This has culminated in the current phase where we are signing Inter-governmental Agreements with the various vendors. On 22 September 2014, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa signed an Inter-governmental Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation in Nuclear Energy and Industry.  Similar Agreements will be signed with other vendors as well.

These Agreements set out potential frameworks of cooperation that each country foresees where or how they can participate in South Africa's new nuclear build programme. They also mark the initiation of the preparatory stage for the procurement process that will be undertaken in line with existing laws and regulations.

As we have indicated before, no information of relevance to the public will be withheld from the South African population.  At the same time we should appreciate that these Agreements contain proprietary information, shared in confidence by each vendor country. It may, therefore, not be prudent to provide details of the contents of the Agreements before we have signed with all the vendor countries.

Furthermore, South Africa remains committed to the use of nuclear power because it is safe, environmentally friendly, and sustainable in the long run. Government stresses that our new nuclear build programme is also about revitalising the local nuclear industry so that we can actively participate in the global supply chain as an exporter of nuclear services and components.

Statement issued by Mr Zizamele Mbambo, DDG Nuclear Energy, and Xolisa Mabhongo, Group Executive Corporate Services, Department of Energy, October 1 2014

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