Nuclear build to be springboard for economic and social development – through localization and skills transfer Johannesburg, SA.
Speaking at the Nuclear Forum during the the 2017 African Energy Indaba Forum and Exhibition, Rosatom Regional Vice President Victor Polikarpov stated that without a sustainable and reliable power source of baseload power such as nuclear, it will be very difficult to bridge the current socio-economic gap in South Africa. “Nuclear requires the highest number of skilled workers per 1000 MW of installed capacity than any other power source”, said Polikarpov, quoting the Nuclear Energy Institute: “nuclear requires 500 skilled workers per 1000 MW, whereas coal requires 220, wind 90 and natural gas only 60 per 1000MW of installed capacity”. In his address at Nuclear Forum, Brian Stathem, head of South African National Energy Association (SANEA), outlined Africa’s challenges and opportunities that have an impact on Africa’s energy security. He noted that “with the continent as the next investment frontier for energy, it has opportunities for global investors and has vast natural energy resources including coal, uranium, oil, gas, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal. South Africa’s draft Integrated Resource Plan and Integrated Energy Plan have put nuclear energy under the spotlight, conversations around nuclear energy are growing in momentum and interest”. Among other notable speakers at the conference were international organizations like the World Bank, the World Energy Council, the African Union Commission and Power Africa. During a special “Nuclear Forum” sponsored by the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) expert panellists debated the key challenges to South Africa’s nuclear build programme and the solutions that were found by fellow nuclear energy countries: public acceptance of nuclear, legal framework, financing and localization. The participants included key vendors, policymakers and consultancies. Polikarpov noted that “It is well known that the implementation of a nuclear new-build project is not only about constructing nuclear power plant (NPP) units, which is highly technological sphere on its own, but is also a huge boost for the entire national nuclear industry, from research and design to fabrication of nuclear power equipment. This industrial boost will lead towards economic development, generating taxes and creating much needed jobs”. Rosatom is currently constructing several Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) across the globe, actively engaging local companies in the process everywhere, from India, Turkey and Bangladesh to Hungary, Finland, Belarus. In addition , hundreds of students from these countries are studying towards nuclear related professions at Russian nuclear universities. Addressing the concern about whether South Africa is capable to successfully build and safely operate a nuclear plant, Mr. Polikarpov stated that “South Africa has a fantastic track record when it comes to nuclear technology and development. It is one of the oldest nuclear nations in the world and is a founder member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”