The Eastern Cape is holding out hope that the planned Thyspunt nuclear power plant will be built in the province despite the nuclear deal being put on ice for now.
Coega Development Corporation (CDC) energy business development manager Sandisiwe Ncemane said the plant would hold great economic benefits for the province.
She told delegates at the African Utility Week that the plant would create around 22 900 formal sector jobs. A site between St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay has been identified for the plant – the first reactor planned in the fleet. It is planned to have an installed capacity of 4 000 MW.
“The construction of a new nuclear plant will also provide a substantial boost to suppliers of products like concrete and steel, as well as manufacturers of hundreds of components,” Ncemane told participants in a session on the status of nuclear power in South Africa.
She added that multiplier estimates had shown that for every rand spent on nuclear, the local economy would benefit R1.04, with a benefit of R1.18 to the broader economy and R1.87 for the national economy. She said this was based on existing industrial capacity.
“The build would position the local region as a host area to harvest opportunities for small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs), as well as emerging sectors.”
The CDC said the infrastructure would also help to boost the long-term growth path of the local economy and would support the existing agriculture and tourism sectors.
Ncemane said the expected R25-billion site development would extend up to the Coega and Port Elizabeth harbours, with bridges, roads and electricity all related to getting the area ready for the nuclear build.
“A R25-billion infrastructure project is an opportunity to exercise radical economic transformation in the area.”
The CDC is also hoping that the development will attract more investors to the Coega Industrial Development Zone.
“To increase the pace of economic growth, we need catalytic projects … projects that are competitive and include a broad participation of the South African community,” said Ncemane.
She said the build would also open up more opportunities for black industrialists and young people and pave the way for a faster growing and more inclusive economy.
Communities living near the site have, however, expressed concern about the prospect of a nuclear power plant being built in the area.
Eskom Nuclear New Build senior manager Loyiso Tyabashe said the recent court case had highlighted that the community had to be brought on board and realise the potential benefits.
“Society has got to see the benefit for us to move forward with nuclear.”
He said people would also need to be upskilled, while SMMEs would need to be in “a position of readiness.”