Nuclear Power Plant Controller

Coal fired power stations currently dominate electrical power generation in South Africa. There is however increasing domestic and globally pressure, to explore alternative energy sources to meet needs for sustainable growth. Nuclear energy currently contributes 3% to the national power grid. To expand the scope of nuclear power generation requires the safe control of nuclear energy and its radioactive deposits to ensure minimal impact to the environment and human health and wellbeing.

Nuclear power plant controllers provide technical support and service in the installation, operation and maintenance of nuclear power plant processes, systems, facilities and equipment. They monitor performance indicators and record and review components, adjusting fission rates, pressure, water, temperature and flow rates, for example. They also run scheduled tests on all equipment to ensure safe and efficient nuclear operation.

Nuclear power plant controllers work as part of a team in control rooms, occasionally inspecting the plant for equipment testing. They can work long hours as nuclear reactors require constant attention and are required to wear strict protective clothing.

Skills

Nuclear power plant controllers require a comprehensive knowledge of nuclear energy reactors and power generation processes. They will also benefit from:

  • Excellent problem-solving ability
  • Ability to keep accurate and consistent records
  • Keen attention to detail and an awareness for safety
  • Physical and mental endurance

Tasks

Control start-up and shutdown of nuclear power plant equipment

Operate and control nuclear power generating systems

Inspect, clean and maintain plant equipment and machinery

Monitor and troubleshoot challenges found in nuclear operating systems

Studies

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Electrical Engineering specialising in Process Control at CPUT, MUT, VUT and WSU

Nuclear power plant controllers will also benefit from a National Certificate in Nuclear Power Plant Process Control Operations at National Qualifications Framework Level 3 to 5,accredited by Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority and Eskom. However, most training takes place on the job with mentoring by an experienced mentor.

Employers

Nuclear power generation plants.

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