After the Fukushima incident, the nuclear power sectors operating globally declined [Martin & Fig, 2015], with reasons other than safety concerns being, construction delays, escalating costs, changing financial models, heightened secrecy and lack of public consultation. On the other hand, driving forces for nuclear energy include energy security of supply, increased energy access and the commonly held belief that economic growth and social well-being are all contingent on reliable base load energy supply.
The use of nuclear energy as long term replacement for traditional power sources is still being actively debated while South Africa already has the only African active nuclear power station. Other countries including Kenya, Egypt, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have research-oriented nuclear reactors while Namibia, Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, and Niger have all expressed interest furthering growth in nuclear power expertise within their countries.
Globally, around 447 nuclear reactors supply power for 31 countries with a major advantage of nuclear power being its contribution of decarbonisation to the power sector. The World Economic Outlook (WEO) new policies scenario predicts that at least $1.1 trillion of investment in nuclear power will occur by 2040 which would represent an increase of nuclear power production of about 46% from current figures.
South Africa, as of 2015, consumed 0.4% of global nuclear energy and has continued in moderate use of nuclear energy. This is provided by the countries Koeberg facility which has a net capacity of 1830 MWe. The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (which uses the acronym NECSA), is the key government Institution concerned with research and was established as a public company by the Nuclear Energy Act in 1999.
Recently, the South African government has estimated a cost of R500-billion to build a new nuclear facility but declined to provide any details of the basis for this financial estimate. With respect to nuclear energy, the government of South Africa has declared that it still intends to use the technology though the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has shown that this would be more expensive than investing in renewable energy [Huffpost, 2017].
Huffington Post (2017) ‘SA going ahead with nuclear plans – Minister’. Huffington Post ZA.
Martin, B. & Fig, D. (2015) Final Report- Findings of the Africa nuclear study. Heinrich Böll Stiftung- Souther Africa.