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Nuclear Energy 2.0: Rosatom’s Clean Electricity

rosatom develops nuclear powered stations

Rosatom says that nuclear powerships can provide clean baseload power at prices that are predictable.

The global industry will deliberate the regulatory framework, and the Russian state nuclear company is ready and willing to help Eskom with thermal capability in the interim.

Floating nuclear reactors have the potential to supply countries like South Africa, which are experiencing a supply shortage, with baseload energy at affordable rates without the risk of construction; however, the regulatory framework is currently complex and underdeveloped.

The Russian state nuclear firm made this point abundantly clear during their talk at the National Press Club a short while ago.

Ryan Collier, CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, stressed the importance of baseload electricity as a complement to variable renewable sources of energy.

rosatom develops nuclear powered stations

According to him, given that 50 percent of Eskom’s coal-powered power stations are scheduled to be decommissioned by the year 2030 and 75 to 80 percent by the year 2050, the nation needs to go on a massive roll-out of gas generation in the medium term in order to equalize the rising proportion of wind and solar power in the electricity mix. He said this is necessary because of the impending decommissioning of Eskom’s coal-powered power stations. Converting open-cycle gas turbines to run on natural gas rather than diesel is another necessary step.

Clean energy

However, over the course of a longer period of time, nuclear will prove to be the most advantageous technology for producing cost-effective, dependable baseload power. Nuclear power plants have demonstrated that they are capable of being operated at an extremely reliable factor, and nuclear energy is generally regarded as clean energy.

READ MORE: Mantashe says SA needs nuclearElectri and renewables

There are three SMR nuclear power plants that float using

In spite of the fact that he thinks South Africa needs more “big machines” like the 1,800MW Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, he believes that Russia’s land-based and floating small modular reactors (SMRs) could be an excellent option for municipalities and large private electricity users.

The 70 MW Akademik Lomonosov is the only floating SMR that is currently in operation anywhere in the world. The Russian Arctic port town of Pevek has been receiving its supply of power from this facility since the year 2020.

As is the situation with the gas-fired Turkish Karpowership vessels, Rosatom will construct the reactors at home and will only sell power to the client under the terms of a power purchase agreement.

nuclear powerships

According to Collier, the most significant distinction lies in the fact that the risk of rising fuel costs in the Karpowership providing is being passed on to the end-user in the form of a pass-through in the tariff. This isn’t the case with the offering from the Russian state-owned company, and as a result, the price that the end-user will pay will be far more predictable.

As was the case with Karpowership, the client is the one who will be responsible for the infrastructure based on land.

Rosatom powerships can be deployed in waters that are international

Before export can take place, a whole new set of regulatory problems, including marine environmental risks, will need to be considered due to the fact that floating SMRs will call for transport in international waters.

In September, under the direction of the International Nuclear Agency, representatives from all over the world’s nuclear industry will get together to discuss the aforementioned concerns.

This may change in the future based on the position of the local nuclear regulator; however, at the present time, nuclear deals are only conducted between countries, and private vendors are not permitted to purchase nuclear technology.

 rosatom logo

Is it feasible for SA?

According to Collier, it may take seven years from the date the deal is signed for Rosatom to provide a land-based SMR. This period includes completing licensing requirements, feasibility studies, and construction.

Only 0.06 square kilometers of land are required for a plant with a capacity of 110 megawatts, which is equivalent to two 55-megawatt generators.

READ MORE: “African nations, being used as test subjects for energy experiments”

According to Collier, the idea that nuclear technology, even in its more conventional forms, is prohibitively expensive is a fallacy. The initial investment is significant, but the cost of fuel accounts for only 5% of the total cost of operating the plant over its lifetime. That means that electricity tariffs can be relatively consistent and easy to forecast.

Increase in the use of nuclear energy

“Developed nations now understand the constraints of renewable energy, and as a result, they are reactivating their nuclear power plants,” he says. “[T]hese countries are also beginning to embrace nuclear energy.”

In addition, he notes that Russian SOE is currently under contract to supply 34 nuclear plants in various countries. In the course of the previous 15 years, it commissioned a total of 17 units.

transmission tower under gray sky delivering electricity.

According to Collier, there are several different models of funding, one of which includes an extension of time before payment begins.

He goes on to say that Rosatom possesses thermal capability as well and that it is willing and able to help Eskom with the upkeep of its thermal coal fleet and reduce the harmful effects of emissions.

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