There is a pressing need for a clear definition of the roles different governmental departments, power utility Eskom and other industry participants will play in the nuclear new build programme, as there is a currently “chaos around who is doing what job”.
This was the overall theme that emerged during a panel discussion held at the Nuclear Forum - part of the African Energy Indaba - on the coordination of South African role-players in the nuclear build programme, where panellists agreed this would be critical to ensuring the project is delivered on time, within budget and with the requisite safety in place.
Participating in the discussion, Eskom nuclear new build senior director Loyiso Tyabashe noted that the key players in the development of the new build programme could learn from the “discontinuity” the parastatal had experienced with the construction and roll-out of its Medupi and Kusile power plants.
“When there is discontinuity, you lose that momentum and synergy. It is important that we plan how we will deploy the different stakeholders and the mobilisation of the workforce,” he averred.
“Coordination starts at a national level. Planning can never be overemphasised, because the minute you distract from it, you are bound to experience delays,” he added.
“Effectively, we need the coordination of planning between the Department of Energy, Eskom, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), the Department of Public Enterprises, the National Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry,” he pointed out.
He noted that South Africa could learn from other countries that have already systematically rolled out significant nuclear build programmes, such as South Korea and China, stating that South Africa should follow suit in the approaches that were used.
Meanwhile, Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane said the most important benefit and focus of the project was not so much getting the “sweet electricity” out of the power plant, but to “mobilise society” to manufacture component systems, which will create greater economic opportunities for the country.
“We need to focus on what value we are going to add in terms of skills and expertise and how will we get that to happen, rather than focusing on [the] rands and cents [that are being spent on the project], because we are going to spend this money anyway.”