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Feb 16, 2010

Small nuclear reactors could close Southern Africa's energy gaps

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It was in South Africa's interest that its neighbours in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) region expand their electricity supply, Stratek Business Strategy Consulting CEO Dr Kelvin Kemm said on Tuesday.

He told delegates at the Prospects of Nuclear Expansion in South Africa conference, hosted by the Institute for International Research, that the SAPP member countries had agreements to support and supply each other with electricity during unplanned electricity outages.

However, given that South Africa produced 80,4% of the region's electricity, none of these countries would be able to assist South Africa in its energy needs should large-scale unplanned outages occur.

Kemm suggested that a number of small nuclear reactors, such as pebble-bed modular reactors (PBMRs), could be a solution for the SAPP region, as well as Africa's energy needs.

He noted that many other countries in Africa did not have large coal resources to generate power from, while hydropower could be unreliable, as it remained dependent on rainfall.

Not only did many African countries have the nuclear fuel resources, but these fuel sources were also smaller than the large quantities of coal needed to run power stations, which made it easier to transport and store.

Kemm emphasised that South Africa had the skills and expertise to operate nuclear plants, noting that the Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape had been operating for more than 25 years.

However, a public awareness campaign was needed to ensure that the general public understood the technology.

Kemm noted that there were already about 440 nuclear power plants in the world, with a further 30 currently under construction.

China alone was planning to build about 23 nuclear power plants, to produce about 24 400 MWe, noted G Sibiya Electrical Consulting MD Gordon Sibiya.

 

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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