Six nuclear power stations planned

Johannesburg - South Africa could get up to six new nuclear power stations.

At an Investec Power Summit in Sandton on Tuesday, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said that the development of a fleet of five or six new nuclear power stations in South Africa could lead to 70 000 new jobs.

Peters said the possibility of South Africa investing in more nuclear power stations formed part of government's debate over the country's future power supply.

However, an ambitious plan such as this would require many more nuclear energy experts than this country currently has. South Africa therefore needs to train more nuclear engineers.

Nuclear power is a growing global industry, and South Africa must therefore compete with the rest of the world for nuclear expertise.
The country will also have to develop a nuclear-energy support industry.

Fortunately, she said, skills developed in the pebble-bed nuclear reactor programme can be harnessed.

She said that a series of nuclear power stations would be more cost-effective than a single one. It costs three times more to build a nuclear power station than a coal-fired plant of the same size.

Medupi, which will produce 4 800MW, will cost R125bn.

Peters said the availability of uranium in South Africa is a big advantage.

SA just haS to be able to convert this mineral locally into a form that can be used, rather than exporting it and then re-importing the final product, she said.

EDF South Africa MD Frederic Diore said government should not exclude Eskom with regard to nuclear power.

Government is talking about a new, independent entity that will see to nuclear power. But Eskom has had 30 years’ experience in the field and it would be wrong to simply toss aside this experience, he said.

Meanwhile Yousuf Haffajee, the head of Eskom’s new power purchasing division – which will buy electricity from independent power providers – said on Tuesday that Eskom was planning to start a selection process for renewable energy projects in October or November.

These projects will form part of government’s aim of adding 1 025MW of renewable energy to the network by 2013.


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