South Africa and France sign nuclear accord

14 October 2014

South Africa has signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with France, opening the door to the possible deployment of French nuclear technology as South Africa looks to expand its nuclear power program.

The inter-governmental framework agreement signed by South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Petterson and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius covers areas including skills development, localisation of nuclear technology as well as research and development in South Africa. Joemat-Petterson signed a similar agreement with Russia in September, and an agreement with China is also due to be signed.

South Africa's two operating nuclear power plants at Koeberg, operating since the mid-1980s,  were built by French company Framatome (now Areva). Joemat-Petterson said that South Africa was pleased to continue its long-standing cooperation with France. "This paves the way for establishing a nuclear procurement process," she said, adding that South Africa intends to sign similar agreements with "the remaining nuclear vendor countries" as it prepares for a program to build up to 9.6 GWe of new nuclear capacity.

France also pointed to the two countries' joint experience at Koeberg. A statement issued by Fabius's ministry said the nations shared the "common goal" of allowing South Africa to meet its energy needs while sharing French expertise.

In a statement, French nuclear company Areva welcomed the agreement, describing it as an "important factor" for future South African nuclear projects. "Areva is ready to support this development, notably through its Generation III+ EPR reactor technology," the company said.

Nuclear energy features heavily in South Africa's long-term plans to secure a sustainable energy mix. The country's 2010 Integrated Electricity Resource Plan envisages up to 9.6 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2030, and earlier this year the country allocated ZAR850 million ($81 million) - over 10% of its energy ministry's budget - to nuclear research and development.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News