South African utility Eskom on 20 December released a request for information (RFI) to the market for the Nuclear New Build Programme following the publication of the section 34(1) determination as amended in the Government Gazette on 14 December 2016, in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006. Section 34(1) designates state-owned Eskom or its subsidiaries as the procurer of the nuclear generation plant. Front end fuel cycle facilities will be procured by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) in collaboration with Eskom.
The RFI seeks to gather information including experience related to recent nuclear project capacities and costs, proposed financing solutions and localisation opportunities. The RFI process will not create any financial commitments or obligations on Eskom or the government of the Republic of South Africa.
To give effect to Cabinet’s requirement of strong oversight of any procurement event, and to ensure the transparency and efficacy of the process, an appropriate governance structures will be developed to ensure compliance. New potential nuclear capacity will be procured through fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective tendering procedures, an Eskom statement said.
The closing date for responses to the RFI is 28 April 2017.
The RFI forms the non-financial part of the overall request for proposals (RFP), which requires the Treasury’s approval before it can be published. It is the first step leading to the appointment of one or more foreign specialist suppliers who will work will the South Africa team in the construction of the new nuclear capacity totalling 9.6GWe.
However, Democratic Alliance (DA) and civil society body Outa said they will explore all legal avenues to prevent the process for unfolding. “Proposed energy policy contained in the Integrated Resource Plan 2016 clearly indicates that nuclear procurement can be postponed until the mid-2020s and the actual build until 2037,” DA MP Gordon Mackay said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Eskom welcomed a statement by the Council for Geoscience (CGS), which confirmed that there is nothing in the geology, bedrock topography or seismology of the proposed Thyspunt nuclear site that disqualifies the area for the construction of a nuclear installation. In April 2016 Eskom filed two nuclear site licence applications with the National Nuclear Regulator for Thyspunt in Eastern Cape, and Duynefontein in Western Cape.
Eskom said it has “comprehensively studied” the seismic and tsunami risks at Thyspunt through extensive data collection designed to estimate regional uplift and deformation rates, earthquake potential, geological faults, marine terrace, fault corridor studies and trenching. These studies provided “conclusive evidence” that allowed five faults to be “definitively classified” as non-seismogenic, Eskom said.
CGS said it has undertaken a number of geoscientific investigations over the past two decades to assess the suitability of several coastal localities for the development of critical infrastructure such as NPPs. This research encompassed seismic monitoring, geological mapping and specialised, neotectonic studies to assess geological hazards. “Based on the extensive geoscientific database established for the Thyspunt locality and surrounding region, as well as a significant body of research undertaken to date, we are confident that the site geology is well understood and that all potential major geological hazards have been identified and considered,” CGS said.