The Opportunities of Nuclear Power for South Africa |
Nuclear power has long been a controversial issue in South Africa. Des Muller, SA Nuclear Build Platform co-spokesperson, explains why nuclear power remains so attractive to the South African energy industry.
Jennifer Granholm, US Secretary of Energy, said: “Let me say it loud and clear: carbon-free nuclear power is an absolutely essential part of our decarbonization equation. “
South Africa has an established and experienced nuclear industry, with some of our great talents behind the development of SMRs and the operation of next generation nuclear power plants around the world.
Although our industry has been geared towards the operation and maintenance of the Koeberg and Safari reactors, previous nuclear new build procurement programs and Koeberg life extension projects have launched our industry with new entrants. qualifying for these opportunities.
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During the 2007 nuclear construction procurement program, the South African industry was well aligned with international nuclear suppliers and their construction partners while localizing their offerings to Eskom. Being a turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) solution, in partnership with competent local contractors, the risks encountered in our recent coal constructions would have been mitigated. This remains the preferred project delivery strategy for nuclear energy.
The 2007 localization target would have generated local spending of over R300 billion over 15 years. This would have prevented the collapse of our construction and manufacturing sectors and significantly reduced the current high levels of unemployment.
For the sake of millions of unemployed South Africa, let us not deny our industry this opportunity any longer. Let’s give our young people a chance to develop decent careers for themselves and create a future for this country.
If Nersa approves the Section 34 determination, we will have the added benefit of having more nuclear suppliers with ABMs included in our procurement process. Large-scale Generation III reactors are in their “first of their kind” (FOAK) phase, with many reactors successfully connected to the grid and delivering the expected performance. Numerous large-scale Generation III reactors and SMR prototypes are under construction around the world, significantly reducing construction risks for South Africa.
The UK is a country that sets an example for South Africa when it comes to locating new nuclear construction. They have similarities to our industry, having last built nuclear power plants almost four decades ago. Thanks to an innovative government-led industry support program and a well-suited industry, local content for the first pair of units has reached over 60% and is currently on target. The UK’s nuclear fleet construction program will benefit from the experience and lessons learned from the first power plant, with significant reductions in construction costs, schedule and electricity tariffs.
A nuclear construction program has far-reaching effects across the entire industry supply chain, from higher education to apprenticeship training, with sustainable jobs and careers in planning, business regulatory, site surveys, engineering, manufacturing and construction over the first 10 years, and operations and maintenance over 60 to 80 years. Nuclear power has no equal in creating decent and sustainable jobs and should therefore be supported by our now transformed industries.
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Participation in the nuclear industry supply chain demands much higher standards of quality, safety and manufacturing. Considering the magnitude of the opportunity that presents itself, it is justified to adapt your business to these standards. These nuclear power qualifications will also open our local industry to previously denied export markets and other security class sectors such as aerospace, 4IR precision manufacturing and LNG.
The exact time to prepare our local industry for a nuclear construction program is essential. Starting at the right time will optimize local construction content and not expose our industry to unnecessary risk. Our industry should be developed on a gradient, through the orientation of the nuclear industry, assessments of management systems and prequalification programs, on which the South African nuclear construction platform provides advice.