The South African government has approved the start of the nuclear procurement programme following the dismissal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who had criticised the plan to build 9.6GWe of nuclear plant by 2029 without first doing a cost-benefit analysis.
The cabinet decision clears the way for the Department of Energy to now call for proposals. Power utility Eskom currently operates two nuclear units at its Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, but South Africa is currently facing chronic electricity shortages. Koeberg supplies about 4% of the South Africa's electricity.
The government invited tenders in July for a contract to build at least four reactors, and nuclear cooperation accords have already been signed with Russia, China, France, the USA, Japan and South Korea, with Canada expected to sign a similar agreement. Companies that have expressed interest include France's Areva and EDF, Toshiba's Westinghouse Electric Corp unit, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp, Korea Electric Power Corp and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Cost estimates for up to eight reactors range from $37bn to $100bn.