Construction of four planned nuclear reactors is expected to add 27,000 jobs to South Africa’s economy, according to a report in Engineering News.
But with unemployment now above 25 percent and construction expected within five to 10 years, the work on the first four of six planned reactors should be fast tracked, said said South African Nuclear Energy Corporation Nurad division leader Ayanda Myoli.
The only African country with a nuclear power plant, South Africa has 2 gigawatt capacity at Koeberg in the Western Cape. The nuclear industry is responsible for 3,000 direct jobs, the report says.
Nuclear technology had the potential to boost South Africa’s economy beyond the energy industry, Myoli said. It could help the country expand industries ranging from agriculture and food to medical and manufacturing.
South Africa is one of the world’s largest suppliers of medical radioisotopes through Necsa subsidiary NTP, distributing to more than 50 countries, Myoli said. Radiochemistry and radio labeling are key in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceuticals and radio pharmaceuticals.
The country’s projected future energy mix includes 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030.
South Africa’s nuclear power industry produces 0.5 jobs per megawatt, compared with the coal industry, which makes for 0.19 jobs per megawatt and the solar photovoltaic sector, with 1.06 jobs for each megawatt.
Construction costs of nuclear plants are among the highest capital costs for power-generation plants, the report said. Total plant costs are between $3,800 per kilowatt and $4,250 per kilowatt. Total capital costs are $5,100 per kilowatt to $5,700 per kilowatt. Total cost of ownership is between $76 per kilowatt hour and $87 per kilowatt hour, according to Engineering News.
Only natural gas-generated power ownership is cheaper, the report said.