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SA opens door to future Russian nuclear power deal

‘Once we are clear that this is affordable for us to do, we are open for business including with Russia’ – Mashatile.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive for the Brics summit on Thursday. Picture: Reuters

South Africa cannot afford large-scale expansion of its nuclear power capacity but would still be open to future deals with Russia, a senior ruling party official said on Thursday, shortly before the arrival of President Vladimir Putin for a summit.

Russian state firm Rosatom was one of the front runners for a project to increase South Africa’s nuclear power-generating capacity championed by former president Jacob Zuma.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has put nuclear expansion on the back burner since taking office in February, saying it is too expensive, and has focused instead on pledges to revive the economy and crack down on corruption.

African National Congress Treasurer General Paul Mashatile, one of the six most powerful members of the ruling party, said Pretoria would not rush into major nuclear investments but that it was still open to deals.

“Once we are clear that this is affordable for us to do, we are open for business including with Russia,” Mashatile said on the sidelines of a three-day Brics summit due to be attended by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“I think the approach we will take is to avoid the Big Bang approach. The initial intervention was that we would do close to 10 000 megawatts… It’s unaffordable,” he said.

Mashatile also said the ANC wanted greater private investment in struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, which swung to a loss for the year to end-March.

Russia wants to turn nuclear energy into a major export industry. It has signed agreements with African countries with no nuclear tradition, including Rwanda and Zambia, and is set to build a large nuclear plant in Egypt.

Rosatom signed a separate agreement with South Africa’s state nuclear firm on Thursday to explore joint production of nuclear medicines and other ways of harnessing nuclear technology, a statement from the two firms showed.

The agreement, which is non-binding and is not related to large-scale power generation, is a further sign that Rosatom is keen to cement its position on the African continent.

The deal will involve the construction of two small reactors and a commercial cyclotron to produce medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals at a facility near Pretoria. 

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So there’s still hope amongst the ANC head honchos for a fat backhander from nuclear, which we as a country absolutely do not need. Instead Eskom needs to be broken into 3 parts: generation, transmission and distribution/sales and partially privatised. Then to take advantage of the tremendous natural benefits we have been blessed with as a country: a long coastline (with plenty of wind), plus massive unpopulated areas where PV panels and CSP can harvest the sun’s energy. (We have over 3 times the amount of sun that Germany has, but they have pushed strongly for solar panels.) Problem is, it’s hard for the ANC to siphon off bribes from REIPPP deals…..

True. But coal is an ugly resource too, air pollution, strip mining and polluted water. Nuclear would be nice on a micro scale (pebble bed reactors), but what to do with the awful waste?

Germany buys quite a chunk of its electricity from the French nuclear.

Jokes aside Vlad.
The only Russian produce we can afford do it for love

Ha ha ha. By the time this comes around all of us who actually pay for electricity will be on solar/batteries. Because it will be cheaper than being ripped off by Eskom.

Well the joke will be on us, because remember Eskoms debt is all full of government guarantees, so either you buy power now and get something for your money are face the incoming tax hikes to repay the debt.

* or face the incoming tax hikes to repay the debt.

Outright repudiating Zuma’s nuclear shenanigans would have invited destabilization from Russia. Rather keep dangling that carrot while waiting for stronger countries to get around to dealing with Vlad.

End of comments.

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