South Africa, Rosatom sign nuclear power cooperation deal


As part of plans to ensure sustainable energy for the future amid the current power crisis in the country, South Africa has inked a deal with  Russia’s civilian nuclear power corporation Rosatom for joint educational programs that would encourage “public acceptance of nuclear power” in South Africa, and also train of personnel for the South African nuclear power industry.

Russian universities and educational organizations are thus expected to receive about 200 South African candidates for practical training. Two agreements were signed between Rosatom and the Department of Energy of South Africa at the 7th BRICS summit holding at Ufa, Russia.

The deals represent another stage in the cooperation between the two countries aimed at strengthening joint efforts in the field of nuclear energy. State Corporation Rosatom is seen as a frontrunner to provide reactors for South Africa’s planned 9,600 megawatt nuclear fleet expansion. The country plans to build six new nuclear power plants by 2030 which are expected to cost between $32 billion and $80 billion.

While the possibility of adding 9,600 MW to its 34,000MW would excite South Africans, critics argue that the developments would further strain South Africa’s finances, with debt rising and economic growth slowing.

About 77 percent of South Africa’s energy needs are directly derived from coal. However, State utility Eskom acknowledges the environmental effects of coal use for generating electricity, noting that “no matter how carefully it is burnt, there are gaseous and solid emissions”.

“Unfortunately, coal is the most economical way available to us – all other methods are either impracticable or much more expensive,” Eskom wrote on its website.

Another renewable energy source being explored by South Africa to reduce dependence on coal is wind energy. This is part of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme, through which the country intends to procure 3,625 MW of renewable energy by the end of 2016.

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