The true cost of South Africa’s nuclear programme

 ·19 May 2016

South Africa’s nuclear programme will probably cost less than the mooted R1 trillion, according to nuclear experts.

Rob Adam, chairperson of Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa, who led a panel discussion on nuclear energy at the African Utility Week in Cape Town, said he doubted if R1 trillion is required. “It seems like an easy number for the newspapers to write about. How realistic is that? It seems too much.”

A participant on the panel, Anthonie Cilliers, programme manager of nuclear engineering at North West University, said in response that he estimated an amount closer to R500bn.

“In my mind it would cost about $4,000 per installed kilowatt, based on electricity supply. If multiplied with 9,600 megawatts we get to R500 billion – that’s half of the price that is being thrown around.”

Dmitri Vyotski, director of nuclear research reactors at Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom, said one should be careful to just take a number without basing it on site locations and specific solutions. “There are a number of interdependent factors that influence the overall price.”

He pointed out that whatever the cost, a nuclear programme would have a positive effect on South Africa’s economy. “In other countries it has created 10 000 jobs in other sectors.”

Another panel member, Professor Johan Slabber from the University of Pretoria, said although there are concerns about the cost of a nuclear build programme, it is important to analyse the total cycle of the facility, from “planning, construction, running, decommissioning cost and the levelised cost of electricity”.


More on nuclear in SA

SA nuclear deal has not stalled, it’s just on hold

SA nuclear deal put on ice: DA

Energy minister ignored state legal advisor on nuclear deal: DA

SA nuclear power plans going ahead this month: report

Nuclear costs “far from R1 trillion”: energy minister

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