South Africa plans to produce 9,600 megawatts more of nuclear power than the 2000 megawatts it already produces at Koeberg, and a stakeholder says this represents a huge business opportunity for investors locally and worldwide.
The only commercial nuclear power station in Africa, Koeberg is owned and operated by the South Africa’s only national electricity supplier, Eskom. The two reactors at the nuclear power station 30 kilometers from Cape Town constitute South Africa’s nuclear program. Half of Cape Town’s power comes from coal fields; the other half, from nuclear power, according to nuclear physicist Kelvin Kemm, CEO of Nuclear Africa.
Eskom generates almost all the electricity in South Africa, and nearly half the electricity produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa, Reuters reported in IndependentOnline.
But nuclear power stations don’t have to be huge any more — they can be 5 percent or 10 percent of the size of the ones at Koeberg in South Africa — and they don’t have to be on the coast — they can be inland, Kemm, said.
Kemm spoke to CNBCAfrica about the strength of the nuclear lobby around the world, South Africa’s reputation for transparency when it comes to nuclear regulations, and why he thinks nuclear power is safer and cleaner than all other types of electrical power including renewable energy sources.
“We’ve got to put power all over Africa,” Kamm said. “Nuclear is the answer.”
South Africa is the only country in Africa that generates electricity by nuclear power. Nuclear Africa is a nuclear project management company based in Pretoria, South Africa.
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The South African government has said it wants to encourage local construction of nuclear facilities. This opens up major business opportunities for companies large and small, both domestic and international, to become involved in nuclear developments in South Africa, according to Nuclear Africa.
Nuclear Africa provides a range of services related to nuclear manufacturing and to advancing the construction and fabrication of the new nuclear power plants. It also helps facilitate public affairs services. Nuclear Africa is operated by nuclear and economics experts backed by a experts in all fields related to nuclear power.
South African President Jacob Zuma said by 2023 he wants to see double the amount of electricity now flowing from nuclear. That means potentially huge job opportunities, Kemm said.
Nuclear generates about 11 percent of the world’s electricity. There are two types of nuclear reactors — boiling water and pressurized water reactors. While nuclear facilities are generally considered safe there have been high-profile disasters.
Despite the media coverage those disasters got, Kemm insists nuclear is the safest, cleanest source of power. “No people died in Fukushima — none,” he insisted on CNBCAfrica. “Radiation levels round the nuclear plant were less than what’s around Johannesburg every day.”
South Africa has a good image round world for nuclear technology and regulatory transparency, according to Kemm.
The country is also blessed with natural resources vital for nuclear power production –namely uranium and thorium. “We have the richest thorium mine in the world,” Kemm said.
Thorium is considered a wonder fuel, according to the Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists. It’s a radioactive element that is far more abundant than uranium. It goes by the symbol Th and atomic number 90. This metal is one of only three radioactive elements that still occur in quantity in nature as a primordial element. One headline in a 2013 online trade publication read: “Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century.”
Why should people care about South Africa’s nuclear path?
“Its cheaper than coal power over a life cycle,” Kemm said. “Solar and wind are very expensive and highly intermittent. You’re not running an electric train on wind but you can run it on nuclear.”