In conversation with
Mr Phumzile Tshelane
Chief Executive Officer | South African Nuclear Energy Corporation
FDI Spotlight: How would you compare nuclear energy to other renewable energy?
Phumzile Tshelane: In South Africa, we need renewable energy and we have the resources for it in abundance. If we were to position ourselves accordingly in the right area of the need for that energy, we should be able to power ourselves using renewable energy. However, when you want to send a miner down a shaft, you would want something more dependable, especially if you factor in that you would also want to know where the miner is and how to bring them back, particularly if the weather changes. This is just one difference between nuclear and other forms of energy. This means that you need to target nuclear energy to the industrialisation and other renewable energy to business. We need an energy mix and one source should not be utilised above another.
Do you believe South Africa has the financial infrastructure to build new power stations and deliver energy via renewable energy methods?
Phumzile Tshelane: A decade ago, when it was a challenge, we looked at ourselves as an island. The good that came from that was that we made partnerships with people like Barclays and with China to make it happen. The perception that South Africa did not have the financial infrastructure was due to the idea that you need all the capital to fund the project on day one. You do not have to do it that way. You need to have a plan and know where the money is going to come from, but you can start building structures that will pay for the next structures as you roll out the project.
What are your comments on the safety of nuclear power?
Phumzile Tshelane: I believe we have a good track record regarding nuclear safety. South Africa has quality checks in place and we look after the personnel that work at the plants, as well as the people who live around them. We realised that when you are dealing with something that is potentially harmful, you need to take precautions. Just like a car that has good brakes or airbags, we take precautions at our nuclear plants.