South Africa and Russia Sign Nuclear Power Agreement

While meeting in Vienna on Sept. 22 for the 58th International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, representatives from the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and the Russian Federation signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation in Nuclear Energy and Industry.

“South Africa today, as never before, is interested in [the] massive development of nuclear power, which is an important driver for the national economy growth,” said Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the RSA’s Minister of Energy.

The agreement forms the groundwork for development of the South African nuclear power program using Rosatom—Russia’s national nuclear corporation—VVER technology with up to eight reactor units possible. They would be the first Russian VVERs built on the African continent, if completed.

The 1,200-MW units planned for South Africa are the latest evolution of the VVER design. While none of the upgraded units are in commercial operation yet, previous versions of the VVER have been a staple of the nuclear industry in several former Soviet bloc countries.

The agreement also provides for collaboration between the two countries in other areas of the nuclear power industry. Russia would provide assistance in development of nuclear infrastructure, construction of a research reactor, and education for South African nuclear specialists. With broad localization of equipment, the agreement is expected to offer development of high-tech industries in South Africa, contribute to creation of a skilled workforce, and allow South African companies to participate in future Rosatom projects in other countries.

“This agreement opens up the door for RSA to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides [a] proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

The country has ambitious plans for its nuclear development, shooting for the completion of all eight units by 2030.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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