This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Andrew John Hall
Presently, South Africa has one nuclear power plant in Koeberg, Western Cape. The plant has two pressurised water reactors that generate 5% (1860 MW (e) capacity) of the country’s electricity and began operating in 1984; the plant is expected to continue operating until 2045-2047. The Koeberg power plant is the only commercial nuclear power station on the entire continent. South Africa is leading the way for the rest of Africa, in regards to its commitment to nuclear energy generation.
The South African government has a strong commitment to the future of nuclear energy and is anticipating building new large nuclear power plants, similar to the Koeberg power plant, in the near future. Eskom, South Africa’s electricity public utility, is moving forward with ambitious plans to establish a new nuclear power site in Thyspruit—the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa; the site was identified as a possible site for a nuclear plant nearly 13 years ago in 2008. This site will form part of government plans to acquire 2500 MW of additional nuclear capacity by 2030 and beyond. This additional nuclear energy will increase the nuclear contribution to the energy mix from 2.4% to 5.6%. South Africa’s investment in nuclear energy is set to compensate for the decommissioning of coal power stations in the very near future.
Policies and safety standards that South Africa has in place are set to be guided by the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy. A National Nuclear Regulator is responsible for exercising regulatory control over the safety of nuclear installations, types of radioactive waste, and irradiated nuclear fuel as well as being responsible for the protection of people, environment, and property from the detrimental effects that arise from ionising radiation produced by radioactive material. Currently, radioactive waste is disposed in the Vaalputs Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility in the Northern Cape.