NWU alumna heeds the call for renewable energy mix of the future

Belinda Bantham -- Thu, 10/24/2019 - 13:17

NWU alumna heeds the call for renewable energy mix of the future

Nuclear power plants currently generate 14% of the world's electricity. In the energy production sector, extensive research done by organisation such as the Energy Regulator of the South Africa, shows that some countries are more dependent on this power source than others.

South Africa currently has two nuclear reactors generating 5% of its electricity, with the first commercial nuclear power reactor starting operations in 1984.

Refilwe Basimane, an alumna of the North-West University (NWU), believes that nuclear energy is South Africa’s answer to the growing concerns of pollutants found in the current energy mix which is heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

The China Scholarship Council and State Power Investment Corporation Limited, one of China’s five major electricity generation companies, awarded Refilwe an international scholarship, in 2017 to pursue a master’s degree in nuclear energy at the Tsinghua University in Beijing. This sought-after scholarship is awarded to students who have shown outstanding academic performance in their chosen field of study.

Her research category included nuclear safety and probabilistic safety assessment, and her project focused on quantifying the risk of the undesired event that might arise in a component cooling water system using a fault tree analysis risk spectrum code.

Refilwe did her in-service training at the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute, a key research and design institute under direct administration of China National Nuclear Corporation.

She believes that nuclear energy is the solution to the existing energy and electricity challenges in South Africa.

“The announcement of the new IRP 2019 plan on 22 October 2019 by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Mr Gwede Mantashe consists of a diverse, balanced energy mix for South Africa,” she says.

“The country has come to realise that nuclear power is a clean source of energy that can contribute significantly to the reduction of emissions and can be procured at a pace, scale and cost affordable to South Africa, taking into account the rate of decommissioning of coal-fired power.  Nuclear is the future,” says Refilwe.

Refilwe Basimane recently received her master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the Tsinghua University in Beijing.