Companies keen to build SA nukes

2012-04-26 22:12

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - Energy companies from around the world are lining up to be involved is SA's plans to increase its nuclear reactor capacity.

The project has an estimated cost of R300bn, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said, but it is still unclear what contracts will be offered or how much of the business will be set aside for local companies.

The two-reactor Koeberg facility near Cape Town is the only nuclear power plant in Africa, that has been operating since 1984. It is committed to building at least six more reactors at three or four sites by 2030 as part of a plan to decrease its dependence on electricity plants that run on greenhouse gas-emitting coal.

Escom now depends on the coal plants for at least 90% of its energy needs, is a major supplier to the neighbouring countries.

An energy crisis in 2008 blamed on poor planning led to frequent and widespread blackouts that hit output in mining and other key industries. The government fears energy supplies will be tight for the next few years, hobbling its efforts to expand the economy and create jobs in a country where a quarter of the work force is unemployed.

South Africa wants to build local skills and local business as it expands its nuclear capacity, Peters said.

"It is not just about building power plants, but how we build them," she said at a nuclear seminar organised by a labour group. "We are not about to turn South Africans into mixers of concrete."

Peters presented the plans for the reactors, along with those for wind and solar plants, just days after a quake and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011, sending three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into meltdown there.

Germany permanently shut down one of its ageing reactors because of what happened at Fukushima. But Peters said she was confident the new nuclear technology South Africa planned to import was safe. No serious incidents have been reported at Koeberg during its 28 years in operation.

Russia

The nuclear programme, though, has had setbacks, including a failed effort with America's Westinghouse to develop next-generation reactors. The multibillion rand  project missed several deadlines before it was abandoned, and prospects for customers were uncertain.

South Africa is not alone in forging ahead with nuclear projects following Fukushima. Turkey went ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant after Fukushima. And even as Japanese engineers were fighting to cool reactors, officials from Russia and Belarus were signing a deal for a $9.4bn nuclear plant in Belarus.

South Africa is "one of several significant prospects on the radar," said Ian Hore-Lacy, spokesperson for the London-based World Nuclear Association, which represents the industry.

American and French companies involved in building Koeberg may have an advantage when it comes to involvement in South Africa's nuclear build-up because of their long-standing relationships, Hore-Lacy said in a telephone interview. But he said Russian, Chinese and other companies can't be discounted in the race for nuclear business here.

Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation, known as Rosatom, has been among the most active in seeking South African business. Rosatom held a seminar in Johannesburg in early April to introduce itself to the South African government and business officials, and sent a vice president back later in April for more talks.

Alexey Kalinin, head of Rosatom's foreign operations, said his company would get as much as 60% of supplies for projects in South Africa from South African companies. He said that could mean more than $15bn in earnings for South African companies, $3.4bn in tax revenues for the South African government, and 15 000 new jobs.

He also said Rosatom was ready to draw South African companies into its global supply chain.

Rosatom's Kalinin said his company was looking ahead to helping Nigeria develop a nuclear industry, and already was involved in uranium exploration and mining in Tanzania and Namibia.

South Africa "can be indeed regarded as a possible gateway to other African countries and a driver of nuclear energy development in the region," Kalinin said.

Next big chance

Such expansion is just what Yves Marignac, a Paris-based energy expert and anti-nuclear campaigner, fears. He would rather see developing countries taking the lead in exploiting safe, clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Local officials say renewables alone can't deliver enough energy.

Marignac, speaking in a telephone interview, also said he is concerned the nuclear energy industry may be pushing new markets to sign contracts before all the questions raised by the Japanese crisis are answered, and those answers turned into safer - and likely more expensive - technology.

"South Africa is probably one of the next big chances for the nuclear companies trying to sell reactors in the world," said Marignac, who sees a race between "the ability of the companies to acquire new contracts... and the ability of the international community to develop new standards."

Peters, said she won't be rushed, and that safety is a top priority.

She also said South Africa is interested not just in building new reactors, but in developing an entire cycle, from mining more of its uranium resources to nuclear waste management. That presents a range of opportunities for foreign companies, as well as the possibility of South Africa one day exporting its own nuclear know-how.

Peters has faced challenges from South Africa's powerful labour movement, concerned she is not choosing the energy options that will create the most jobs, and from a nascent South African anti-nuclear movement.

"We as South Africa are convinced that we need an energy mix," Peters said. "We cannot discard any technology."

- SAPA
Read more on:    dipuo peters  |  nuclear
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
29 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.