Pretoria – Government has held talks with China to explore that country’s interest in participating in South Africa’s civil nuclear energy projects.
Energy Minister Ben Martins and the Vice Administrator of China’s National Energy Commission, Tan Rongyao, met on Tuesday to discuss China’s proposed agreement, which is still under consideration by both parties. The draft agreement covers areas such as supply of nuclear energy products and infrastructure funding to promote regional nuclear power developments; supplier development and localisation; skills development and capacity building, and research and development.
It follows on two other agreements that deal with various aspects of the energy sector. In 2006, the two countries signed an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy, which covers design, construction and operation of nuclear reactors. In 2010, South Africa signed a general cooperation agreement in the field of energy, covering oil and gas, renewable energy, energy efficiency and skills development.
Last month, the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (NECSA) signed a skills development and training agreement with two Chinese state nuclear energy corporations – the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC). The agreement will lay the foundation for further cooperation in skills development, and will be funded up to 95% by Chinese institutions.
The agreement will create opportunities for young South Africans to enrol in Chinese universities to further their studies in nuclear energy and other specialised areas of energy. “Policy certainty and predictability in the energy sector has contributed significantly to attracting foreign investors to the successful renewable programme and other energy components of the energy mix,” said Minister Martins.
Rongyao expressed China’s willingness to participate and invest in the nuclear energy sector in South Africa to support economic development, localisation, skills development and job creation. Government is looking at the various aspects involved in the rolling out of nuclear energy.