Eskom: South Africa well-equipped for nuclear energy

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File: Eskom will hold urgent talks with unions in hopes of ending a wage strike.

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom says South Africa is well-equipped to have nuclear power stations and has a nuclear safety culture, with Koeberg having operated safely for over 32 years.

The power utility said on their website about two-thirds of the world’s population live in countries where nuclear power plants are an integral part of electricity production and industrial infrastructures.

"The performance of the Koeberg power station has also consistently been one of the strongest within the Eskom fleet. It is also the cheapest energy provider in South Africa’s fleet."

Around the world, scientists in more than 50 countries use nearly 300 research reactors to investigate nuclear technologies or to produce radio isotopes for medical diagnosis, cancer therapy, insect eradication, domestic application, and X-rays for preserving fresh produce.

Nuclear energy currently provides approximately 11% of the world’s electricity and through Koeberg nuclear power station near Cape Town, it powers most of the Western Cape. Nuclear energy has supplied 4,4% of South Africa’s total electricity needs since 1984.

Nuclear energy comes from the process of splitting the nucleus of an atom of uranium-235, which releases energy in the form of heat and radiation. This process is known as nuclear fission. The fuel used in a nuclear power station is uranium.

South Africa possesses sizeable uranium reserves and has an extensive uranium mining industry, making the country one of the important producers of uranium in the world. Uranium production in South Africa is a by-product of gold and copper mining.