Russians gun for South Africa’s bubbling nuclear power


Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) hosted a seminar in Johannesburg early this month in a move clearly designed to positioning itself closer to South Africa’s nuclear power expansion ambitions.

Hosted jointly with the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa, Rosatom was out to project the technical capabilities of Russian nuclear technology. South Africa is on the radar screens of nuclear technology players as the country has been talking about beefing up its power capacity partly through a fleet of nuclear power plants that could fetch billions of dollars. The French through Areva and the Americans through Westinghouse and the Americans through Westinghouse have also flocked into the southern tip of Africa. Nuclear players across the world have also gone into PR overdrive given questions raised about nuclear safety following last year’s earthquake facilitated nuclear disaster in Japan.

The Rasotom seminar emphasized partnership the competences of Rosatom in nuclear equipment manufacturing and supply, as well as in nuclear fuel supply.  There was also focus on the engagement of local industrial and scientific resources. “We always aim to localise a vast majority of our activities, such as in the construction supply chain, which results in cheaper projects,” said Rosatom overseas public relations VP Ivan Dybov. “We have great experience in cooperation with local companies and always try for maximum involvement of local companies in our projects,” he says.

Rosatom director of the international business department and president of Rusatom Overseas Alexey Kalinin, said the company intends to develop a long-term strategic cooperation with South African partners.

“We acknowledge South Africa’s achievements and developments in nuclear energy and we appreciate and respect the country’s drive to develop. Rosatom is committed to the domestic and international development of nuclear power, making our countries like minded on the topic and a favourable match for an ongoing partnership. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and hope that our capabilities will be viewed as contributors to the country’s ambitious nuclear energy development plans and goals. We do not see this as a transactional approach for just one or two projects, but as a long term collaboration where we localise transfer technologies and share success as it happens,” says Kalinin.

Director of Nuclear Technology at the South African Department of Energy Jeetesh Keshaw points out the importance of cooperation with the Russian partners, as well as plans for the South African nuclear sector development, which involves the construction of 9,6 GW capacity power plants.

“Rosatom has a significant advantage as it incorporates the broadest range of nuclear technologies globally and has activities in fuel fabrication, research and development, power equipment and services, nuclear engineering and construction, power generation, spent nuclear fuel treatment, gas centrifuges manufacturing, conversion and enrichment, as well as mining,” Keshaw says.

Rosatom said it currently has contractual agreements for the construction of 21 new NPP units in Russia and abroad. In 2011 the stock of foreign orders for the 2012-2020 period increased to US$50,8-billion. The company is currently bidding on an NPP project in the Czech Republic. “The Czech Republic has a large nuclear industry and we want to use them in other Rosatom projects. There is the possibility of the same in South Africa,” says Kalinin.




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