The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy on Wednesday that it is ready for South Africa’s proposed programme to build a number of new nuclear power plants (NPPs). It can do so using its existing facilities. The parliamentarians were briefed during a visit to the Necsa complex at Pelindaba, west of Pretoria.
Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane assured the visitors that his organisation would support the development of a local nuclear industry through the planned localisation programme that will be part of the new NPP project. Furthermore, in answer to a question, he gave the assurance that estimates that the new NPP programme would cost R1-trillion were, in Necsa’s words, “unrealistic in global comparison”.
The corporation can undertake nuclear standard manufacturing and has already exported nuclear reaction chambers to Russia. Other international customers for Necsa-manufactured components are Alstom and Areva in France. It has also produced parts for Eskom’s new coal-fired Medupi and Kusile power plants.
The corporation also operates a Learning Academy where it trains engineers, artisans and other skilled technical workers. “[W]e are proud of the contribution we are making already in developing critical skills for South Africa, which will also be relevant to the new build programme,” he said.
Necsa has also carried out feasibility studies regarding the manufacture and supply of nuclear fuel for the proposed new NPPs. The intent would be to make South Africa self-sufficient in this field and ensure that it was not dependent on the small number of suppliers that exist today.
In addition to visiting the corporation’s manufacturing and training units, the MPs also inspected its fluorine and nuclear medicine facilities. Necsa exports radioisotopes for medical purposes to more than 60 countries.