South Africa's need to develop its nuclear power plant operations knowledge was reiterated by a group of delegates returning from the South African Civil Nuclear Energy Training Programme, held in China earlier this year.
Four cadets were speaking at a debriefing session with representatives from Coega Development Corporation (CDC), Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) on 21 August.
They and two other delegates from the Eastern Cape were among a group of 50 selected by government to participate in the four month long programme, in preparation for the imminent procurement of the nuclear-build programme.
Delegates were selected from the CDC and other major role players in the industry. Training took place at China's Shanghai Jiao Tong and Tsinghua universities, and included lectures by industry experts as well as tours to two nuclear power facilities - Sanmen, in Zhejiang province, and the Haiyang, in Shandong province, each of which houses two 1,250MW units, with capacity for six to eight more. South Africa's programme aims to add 9,600MW of capacity to the national grid.
Areas of training
Training encompassed capabilities and technologies in areas of nuclear power plant engineering, procurement, manufacturing, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and project management.
The four trainees are Ziphozakhe Williams, an intern in the CDC energy sector unit, Isaya Gxekwa, a former CDC energy intern, Zenande Nombakuse, an intern at DEDEAT and Sizinzo Majola, a former graduate trainee of the NMBM's electricity unit.
Williams said the training had increased her appetite to grow in the nuclear field. "Experts lectured us on various technologies; what stood out for me was when they told us about the Gen4 modular reactor. They also hammered home the importance of safety and quality, looking at the
possibilities of what could go wrong in the design of every nuclear power plant and taking lessons learnt from major accidents," she said.
Cooperation with Russia
In July, the CDC welcomed the signing of a nuclear memorandum of cooperation between South Africa and Russia, with a specific focus on skills development for the South African nuclear power industry and enhancement of public awareness of nuclear energy.
Thyspunt, 80km from the Coega IDZ, is earmarked as a likely location for the first nuclear fleet of the planned 9.6GW nuclear power programme.
Sandisiwe Ncemane, CDC energy sector business unit manager, said the organisation plans to register its cadets to participate in phase two of the nuclear programme. The second phase will include more specialised training which will take place either in South Africa or China.