South Africa hosts nuclear energy conference

24 November 2015

The Nuclear Supply Chain Conference has called on all companies working in construction, “not just from the nuclear industry”, but those in engineering, steel, waste management, financing, concrete, information technology services and more, to get involved in discussions.

With South Africa’s nuclear energy programme edging closer to reality, leading businesses in its supply chain will meet next week to explore ways of benefiting from the R1-trillion industry.

The conference will be held in Cape Town on 1 and 2 December. Participants will identify key features and timelines of the procurement process to secure business development opportunities in South Africa’s nuclear industry.

The Department of Energy aims to have almost 80% of construction work done within the South African supply chain, which “offers a huge business opportunity for South African companies”, explain the conference organisers.

Nuclear energy will provide 22% of South Africa’s generating capacity by 2030, according to the online information portal Nuclear Energy Insider. “As the nuclear procurement process for international partners continues, understand the next steps to becoming part of the 9.6 gigawatt nuclear energy programme,” it reads.

About the conference

With hefty criticism of nuclear energy coming from trade unions, political parties and environmentalists, the conference also hopes to “develop a local network of suppliers to help increase public acceptance and pass on benefits to local South African communities”.

Stakeholders include the Department of Energy; Eskom; South African Nuclear Energy Corporation; National Nuclear Regulator; the Russian Federation national nuclear corporation, Rosatom; the French nuclear company, Areva; and the Japanese-American provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services, GE Hitachi.

While Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom is seen as the frontrunner to lead the 9 600 megawatt nuclear energy build programme from 2023 to 2030, there will be many opportunities for other businesses.

Rosatom vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa Viktor Polikarpov, one of the guest-speakers, is expected to highlight the company’s strategic offer to South Africa and what this means for local industries and the economy. Polikarpov will disclose how his company will develop localisation, resulting in job creation as well as skills and knowledge transfer to local communities.

He will also reveal the role industries can play if Rosatom wins the bid, including opportunities to springboard into Africa.

Even though South Africa has signed nuclear accords with nuclear energy companies from Russia, the US, Japan, South Korea, China, France and soon Canada, many industry insiders see Rosatom as the winning bidder. With a major nuclear deal being signed in Egypt this month and ongoing negotiations with Nigeria, Rosatom hopes to build manufacturing plants in South Africa to benefit from its nuclear push into Africa.

About nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is energy in the nucleus (core) of an atom, explains the National Nuclear Regulator’s website. Atoms are tiny particles that make up every object in the universe. There is enormous energy in the bonds that hold atoms together. Nuclear energy can be used to make electricity.

But first the energy must be released. It can be released from atoms in two ways: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. In nuclear fusion, energy is released when atoms are combined or fused together to form a larger atom. This is how the sun produces energy. In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms, releasing energy. Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to produce electricity.

Source: News24Wire and SouthAfrica.info reporter