Monday, December 26, 2016

Russia Sees South Africa as a Potentially Lucrative Market for Nuclear Power Plants

Rosatom flag (Credit: flowcomm via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Rosatom, the Russian state-owned conglomerate that is building nuclear power plants in Russia and around the world, has confirmed that it is closely monitoring the public discussion that is taking place in South Africa over the newly released integrated energy plan.

South Africa’s draft energy plan isn’t being presented to the public as a fait accompli.  Instead, the draft provides information about several likely scenarios, all of which would include the 9.6 GWe of new nuclear plant capacity described in the 2010 version of the plan.  There is some variation in the timing for the completion of the first new units depending on selected strategies for optimizing costs and balancing completion delays against the increased quantities of pollutants that would be emitted by delaying the introduction of new nuclear.

In the base case, the first new nuclear plant would be starting by 2026 with the first tranche of a continuing construction program being completed by the early to mid 2030s.  In that base case, nuclear energy would provide 29.5 GWe by 2050.  All of the capacity would have to come from plants that are not yet built.  South Africa’s only operating nuclear units were completed in the second half of the 1980s and are not expected to still be operating in 2050.

There is a scenario in the plan called a “nuclear relaxed” case that allows a delay in the currently proposed building plan based on the slower than expected growth in electricity demand.  This case was considered available for study because, unlike the rest of the capacity additions identified in the 2010 plan, there are not yet any signed commitments to begin construction.

If this scenario becomes the selected plan, the delays will be limited.  Even in the most pessimistic assumptions of demand growth, new nuclear will need to begin coming on line by 2030 instead of 2026 so that there is not a shortage of generation capability.  The plan acknowledges that the delay doesn’t provide much additional time, given the long lead times required to plan and construction nuclear power plants.

In the nuclear relaxed case, the plan acknowledges that certain climate and air pollution targets will be missed as a result of continuing to rely on dirtier power sources for a longer period of time.

The plan authors worked hard to provide the public with information about costs, employment, pollution, fossil fuel dependency, water usage and, crucially in a country with historical development inequalities, access to reliable electricity.

Read more at Russia Sees South Africa as a Potentially Lucrative Market for Nuclear Power Plants

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