Rosatom highlights BRIC nuclear plans and benefits for South Africa

25th May 2012 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The nuclear accident at Fuku- shima has had a limited impact on nuclear energy programmes across the world, affirms Russian State-owned nuclear energy group Rosatom. “Fukushima did not trigger the cancellation of national nuclear energy programmes in the majority of countries,” states Rosatom overseas VP Ivo Kouklik. “It led to temporary halts in some new construction, because of reviews of safety requirements, and a prolongation of licensing processes.”

In 2010, there was 374 GWt of installed nuclear capacity in the world. Prior to Fukushima, Rosatom had expected this to rise to 515 GWt in 2020 and to 652 GWt in 2030. Post-Fukushima, the Russian group now expects global nuclear capacity to increase to 484 GWt in 2020 and to 598 GWt in 2030. This represents decreases over the pre-Fukushima estimates of 6% for 2020 and 8% for 2030.

“After the Fukushima accident, around 40 countries have confirmed their support for nuclear energy and their intentions to develop national nuclear programmes,” he highlights. “Four- teen of them are actually emerging nuclear markets [currently] without NPPs (nuclear power plants).”

Brazil, Russia, India and China are all actively developing nuclear power, he points out. Brazil has two one-reactor NPPs in operation and a third being built, with more planned by 2030 (Kouklik says it is six, but Brazilian sources say four to eight). Russia has 33 reactors in service – nine under construction and 15 more planned by 2030. India operates 20 reactors, with seven being built and 16 planned by 2030. China has 15 reactors in commission, 26 under construction and 51 planned by 2020 (not 2030).

Brazil’s current installed nuclear capacity is 1 896 MWe, Russia’s is 24 164 MWe, India’s is 4 385 MMWe and China’s is 11 881 MWe. The nuclear power plants currently under construction will add 1 270 MWe to Brazil’s capacity, 8 700 MWe to Russia’s, 4 890 MWe to India’s and 27 640 MWe to China’s. South Africa, of course, has the two-reactor Koeberg NPP near Cape Town, with an installed capacity of 1 800 MWe.

The four big BRIC countries are developing nuclear energy because, Kouklik argues, “nuclear power plants bring more than just energy.” He lists the other benefits as including job creation, industry and construction sector development, increased energy security, stimulation (and the facilitation) of the growth of demand in other sectors of the economy, the development of science and education, increased tax payments and social infrastructure development. Foreign direct investment will also be stimulated.

Moreover, nuclear energy provides both a stable electricity supply and stable electricity prices. (Most of the cost of nuclear power is taken up by the construction of the NPPs; nuclear fuel is only a very small part of the cost.)

Rosatom estimates that South African content for a first new NPP could be between 30% and 40%, but that this could rise to 60% for the seventh and eighth new units. The South African input for the first NPP could comprise construction (amounting to 24% of the project), electrical devices and transformers (8%), some instrumentation and control systems (4%), piping (2%) and air conditioning (2%).

According to the Russian group, the key areas in which South Africa currently lacks capabilities, requiring the use of imported equipment, are the reactor vessel, the steam generator, main cooling pumps, generators, turbines and certain instrumentation and control systems. The more NPPs South Africa builds, the more these capabilities can be established, or re-established, in the country.

In terms of direct employment, Rosatom estimates that each new NPP will create 900 long-term skilled jobs, divided into 400 operating personnel (operators working shifts, equipment engineers, safety staff and training personnel) and 500 maintenance personnel.
In addition, some 3 000 construction workers will be required to build each NPP, while local production of equipment (assuming a localisation level of 60%) would create 4 500 jobs. Other jobs would be created indirectly.

“The freezing of nuclear energy development is equal to the rejection of social and economic development,” asserts Kouklik.