NNR Inspector, Mr Sonwabile Rasmeni presented two papers at the IAEA international conference on climate change in Vienna, Austria, 7-11 Austria 2019

Two (2) papers were presented at the International conference on climate change and the role of nuclear power organized by IAEA.

The first presentation titled “The effects of climate change on the Zambezi River: Implications to South Africa’s hydropower generation and electricity crisis”. This paper is presented in collaboration with the following University of South Africa staff members: Professor Baojin Zhao, Dr Lindani Ncube and Elna van Niekerk. (Poster Presentation).

The paper documented the impacts of climate change on the Zambezi River based on preliminary field investigations that were conducted in May and June 2019 in Zambia and Mozambique. The main threat was the occurrence of sporadic droughts in the region resulting in less stream power and increased sediment deposition and if the situation remains the same, South African electricity generation would be negatively affected.

Each year, South Africa imports about 50% of electricity generated from the Zambezi River’s Cahora Bassa hydropower plant in Mozambique and the imported electricity contributes about 3% in Eskom’s energy mix each year. Zimbabwe and Zambia are currently experiencing the worst power crisis due to persistent droughts. The water levels at the Zambezi River Kariba hydropower plant upstream are low and this affects the plant performance and a similar situation is likely to happen in the Cahora Bassa hydropower downstream. The paper emphasised the importance of exploring other reliable environmental friendly energy sources capable of mitigating climate change.


The second paper titled. “Addressing the public perception on the role of nuclear power on climate change reduction through educational awareness and collaboration”. The paper is based on 24 peer-review literature studies on the public perception of nuclear power and its role to mitigate climate change. The selected literature studies were conducted after the following nuclear accidents: Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, Tokai, 1999 and Fukushima 2011.

The outcome of the study shows that the main barrier to the public acceptance of Nuclear Power is the lack of knowledge hence the need for educational awareness and collaboration on issues related to Nuclear technology.

The paper included the role of the National Nuclear Regulator in educating the public in South Africa through various educational awareness programs, in line with the study recommendations.