SA could have first nuclear plant by 2020

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa could have its first nuclear power plant by the year 2020 if Cabinet approves a proposal expected to be put forward by the Ministry of Energy.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters announced on Friday that her ministry was to submit a proposal on the construction of a nuclear power plant to Cabinet next year. The department is currently engaging role-players such as the Science and Technology Ministry on the plan.

"In February next year or early next year we will be submitting to Cabinet our plan," said Peters.

The minister said that a nuclear power plant would enhance the country's energy mix as traditionally South Africa has relied on coal generated electricity.

The introduction of nuclear technology will see the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

"If, for instance, we build the next generation nuclear fleet of 20 000mw, we estimate that we will create around 70 000 direct jobs in the South African economy. This figure will be much higher if we include approximately 300 000 indirect jobs that will be created throughout the entire nuclear value chain," said Peters.

The challenge is to make sure the country is able to develop the necessary technology. However, the minister said that the industry and role players would be given ample time to develop such technology before construction starts on the nuclear power station.

For South Africa to be able to produce nuclear power specialised skills will be needed and the minister said that the skills to perform the job will be first sourced in the country before looking abroad.