Lesedi keen to retain nuclear skills built up over years in South Africa

5th March 2020 By: Kim Cloete - Creamer Media Correspondent

Lesedi keen to retain nuclear skills built up over years in South Africa

Koeberg power station
Photo by: Creamer Media

South African engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance company Lesedi is keen to use its nuclear expertise and skills in South Africa and other African countries and is also looking to expand its focus to Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Lesedi has diversified its business and is active in multiple energy generation segments in the mining industry, as well as the oil and gas, power generation and renewable energy environments, but wants to retain its nuclear skills, built up over years in operating the Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape.

“For new nuclear to come on line after 2030, we should start the process as soon as possible, to retain critical nuclear skills and to contribute to energy stability, industrialisation and economic growth in South Africa,” says Lesedi business development executive Shane Pereira.

He points out that Lesedi continues to pursue international nuclear opportunities, so that it retains critical nuclear skills.

Pereira says South Africa could become a regional hub of nuclear expertise and training, as several African countries such as Ghana and Kenya have indicated that they are pursuing nuclear power.

He notes that Lesedi is already involved in the development of nuclear skills at several South African universities.  

The company is also looking to expand its reach outside of Africa to Saudi Arabia, which has its own nuclear power project aspirations, as well as to Abu Dhabi, where about 150 South Africans with nuclear experience are currently working.

Pereira says Lesedi has a global footprint as it has exported skilled maintenance personnel to more than 15 nuclear plants across the world for over 15 years.

Meanwhile, the company is keen to tap into the interest in new technologies such as small modular reactors which are under development in several countries. Pereira says this is an exciting field, as diverse technologies are reshaping the future nuclear energy landscape.

He notes that nuclear power is a stable, cost-effective and clean source of power and should play a role in the future energy mix for South Africa.

“We have a strong nuclear industry in the country, as is evidenced by the successful operation of Koeberg for over 30 years and the 20 MW tank-in-pool-type nuclear research reactor Safari 1 at Pelindaba, west of Pretoria, for over 50 years.”

Since 2001, Lesedi has made over 150 modifications at Koeberg and is busy with the plant life extension through the replacement of steam generators and water storage tanks, as well as other modifications.

Lesedi took part in the Africa Energy Indaba, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, from March 3 to 5.