Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said nuclear is a key driver for economic growth after signing a deal for South Africa to get up to eight nuclear reactors from Russia.
She signed a nuclear power cooperation deal with Russia, said state nuclear firm Rosatom in a statement on Monday.
“South Africa today, as never before, is interested in the massive development of nuclear power, which is an important driver for the national economy growth,” said Joemat-Pettersson.
She said the deal paves the way for the building of up to 9.6GW (8 NPP units) of nuclear power plants based on Russian technology by 2030.
“This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration.”
The delivery of the reactors will enable the start of the first nuclear plant based on Russian technology on the African continent.
“The signed agreement, besides the actual joint construction of NPPs, provides for comprehensive collaboration in other areas of nuclear power industry, including construction of a Russian-technology based multipurpose research reactor, assistance in the development of South-African nuclear infrastructure, education of South African nuclear specialists in Russian universities and other areas,” said Rosatom in a statement.
Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko said South Africa will get all the necessary competencies for the implementation, of what he called, “this large-scale national nuclear energy development programme”.
Said Kirienko: “Rosatom seeks to create in South Africa a full-scale nuclear cluster of a world leader’s level – from the front-end of nuclear fuel cycle up to engineering and power equipment manufacturing.”
He said the deal will create thousands of jobs and the placing of a significant order to local players worth at least $10bn.
Reuters reported that China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, Toshiba and Korea Electric Power are among the companies that have been reported as showing interest in securing the nuclear deal.
SA is home to one nuclear power station that provides around 5% of the country’s 42 000 MW of installed generating capacity. Nearly all the rest comes from coal.
However, in a national energy assessment in December, South Africa said it might delay the construction of nuclear power plants and focus instead on coal, hydro and gas as alternative energy sources.
The country has been struggling to keep the lights on due to its failure to invest in new power plants nearly two decades ago.
Eskom is scrambling to finish new power plants, including Medupi and Kusile, massive coal-fired outfits with a combined capacity of about 9 500 megawatts (MW) that are far from complete.