France and South Africa strengthen nuclear bonds

03 March 2011

A visit to France by South African President and members of his cabinet has provided a platform for strengthening cooperation on energy matters between the two countries, with agreements signed on nuclear development and training.

The visit, in which presidents Zuma and Sarkozy talked primarily about G20 matters, also saw heads of Areva and the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) agree to continue their companies' cooperation in nuclear development, while the heads of utilities EDF and Eskom signed a memorandum of understanding on the foundation of a new training institute for South African power engineers.


Sarkozy and Zuma in Paris, February 2011
Sarkozy and Zuma in Paris (Elysee)
Echoing a similar agreement signed between the two parties in Cape Town during 2008, yesterday's signing will see Areva assist Necsa with the training of nuclear experts. Following the ceremony Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon noted "Areva and South Africa have been partners for over 30 years and the group remains fully committed to supporting the country's nuclear ambitions."

For the engineering institute, which is to be known as EPPEI (Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute), EDF will design the training program and provide teaching staff once the institute opens its doors in 2012. EDF and Eskom have been working together for the past four years helping to re-commission three South African fossil power stations that were closed down during the 1990's.   

The French nuclear industry has been involved with South Africa since the 1970's when it constructed the two pressurized water reactors at the country's only nuclear power plant, Koeberg. Those units currently supply about 5% of South Africa's power, which is otherwise dominated by coal-fired generation. Recent estimates suggest a doubling of the country's installed capacity of 40 GWe is required to meet expected electricity demand by 2030.

Along with Westinghouse's AP1000, Areva's EPR was short-listed as a potential candidate for nuclear new build in 2008, before worsening economic conditions quelled prospects. Last year, and in the light of a brighter financial outlook, South Africa revived plans for about 10 GWe of nuclear generation.


Researched and written
by World Nuclear News