Russia to give SA nuclear training input

12 August 2013

Russia’s State Nuclear Power Corporation, Rosatom, which is busy positioning itself in case South Africa decides to build new nuclear power plants, has signed an agreement with North West University that will see it getting involved in training nuclear industry specialists for the country.

Rusatom Overseas, a Rosatom branch that specialises in the promotion of the corporation’s projects abroad, last week signed a memorandum of cooperation with North West University, the only institution in South Africa that offers postgraduate degrees in nuclear engineering.

The memorandum envisions the development of collaboration programmes in research, exchanges of experts, joint seminars and the writing of textbooks. A joint working group is to draw up a list of projects for collaboration.

“We are pleased to announce the signing of the MoU with our Russian colleagues,” said Professor Herman van Schalkwyk, rector of the Potchefstroom Campus of North West University. “We recognise that nuclear energy remains an important option for South Africa.

“The intention is to explore the potential for future collaboration, ranging from education to specific technical projects in nuclear engineering, hydrogen technologies, energy, etc.”

Jomart Aliyev, director-general of Rusatom Overseas, said the memorandum would promote the development of technical education in South Africa, while giving local researchers and scientists the opportunity to find out more about modern Russian technologies.

Joint research and scientific developments, he said, would “provide a solid foundation for the development of Rosatom’s business relations in South Africa”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma in Sochi in May that Russia was ready to assist South Africa in building up a comprehensive nuclear power engineering industry.

South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant is the only nuclear power-generating facility on the African continent.

South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for 2010 to 2030, a 20-year projection on the country’s electricity supply and demand, envisages 9 600 MW of additional nuclear capacity by 2030. The plan is due to be reviewed soon.

Speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba in Johannesburg in February, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said South Africa planned to expand its use of nuclear power in a safe and secure way as a key part of the country’s move towards a diversified, low-carbon energy mix.

“If we are serious about diversification towards a low carbon economy, we cannot belittle the role that natural gas and nuclear power can play in the realisation of that 2030 low-carbon energy vision,” Peters said.

Rosatom is ranked fourth in the world for nuclear electricity generation, accounting for 17% of the world nuclear fuel market. It conducts 45% of the world’s uranium enrichment services, and is ranked the second in the world for uranium reserves and fourth for uranium production.

The company last year opened a marketing office in Johannesburg, only its third such office after Ukraine and Singapore, and sent a high-level delegation to Durban to take part in the 5th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in March-April., with additional reporting by SAinfo