PBMR moves on as Earthlife challenges Eskom

25 January 2006

Spanish state-controlled nuclear company Equipos Nucleare SA (ENSA) has signed a contract with South African utility Eskom as part of the programme to design and build the pebble bed modular nuclear reactor (PBMR) in South Africa.

The contract, worth €39 million, will see ENSA design and build the reactor pressure vessel, including pipework and auxiliary vessels in the pressure barrier of the prototype reactor for delivery in 2009.

A demonstration reactor is expected to start operation in 2010 and the first commercial reactor, with a capacity of 165MWe, is due to start in 2013.

The latest contract follows deals with a number of companies, including ThyssenKrupp and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Meanwhile, South African environmental group Earthlife Africa is challenging a court ruling that prevents it from gaining access to minutes from meetings at national utility group Eskom. The minutes concern the economic case for the PBMR. Earthlife has filed papers appealing against the Johannesburg High Court ruling that power utility Eskom's minutes remain secret.

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