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Algeria keen on SA pebble bed

Feb 08 2010 12:02

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Johannesburg - Algeria has shown a keen interest in South Africa's pebble bed technology, South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) company said on Monday.

CEO Jaco Kriek said in a statement that Algeria's interest in PBMR technology "opens a real opportunity for two African countries to co-operate on nuclear". The statement said a high-level delegation under the leadership of Mohamed Derdour, chairman of the Algerian Atomic Energy Commission (Comena), was in South Africa.

"Algeria is, amongst others, exploring the possibility of building nuclear reactors the size of PBMR near inland villages to provide electricity and desalination," Kriek said.

Other areas of possible strategic partnerships were in the field of capacity building and skills development, training, experimental facilities using a PBMR reactor, nuclear safety and the supply of purified helium for PBMR.

According to Comena, Algeria was seriously pursuing nuclear technology as a means to diversify its energy sources and as a vehicle to reduce its dependency on a hydrocarbons economy.

"We plan to build 1000 MWe [megawatt electrical] of nuclear capacity by 2022 and 2400 MWe by 2027," Derdour said.

"Since this power is needed for both electricity generation and desalination, the pebble bed technology seems to be an extremely attractive option."

Derdour pointed out that Algeria, like South Africa, had signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

"Algeria has atomic energy agreements with Argentina, China, France and the United States.

"We also have two research reactors, which were built by Argentina and China respectively".

Kriek said South Africa had a long relationship with Algeria, including the signing in 2003 of a memorandum of understanding on co-operation in the field of nuclear and radiation sciences between Comena and South Africa's department of science and technology.

"We believe the PBMR technology is ideal for a country such as Algeria with its need for clean water.

"We would therefore very much welcome Comena's involvement in the PBMR Company," Kriek added.

- Sapa

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