South Africa to issue nuclear tender on 30 September

13 September 2016

South Africa intends to issue a request for proposals relating to its nuclear procurement process on 30 September, energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told the parliament on 7 September. She was responding to questions in the National Assembly. Despite criticism from environmental groups and local media, South Africa plans to go ahead with a new build programme to construct 9.6GWe of new nuclear generating capacity. Sites have been shortlisted and potential suppliers have been lobbying for the business.

Meanwhile, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has granted state-owned utility Eskom a 30-day extension to the public comment period for its application for a nuclear installation site licence at Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape region. NNR has also granted Eskom permission to place a notice for its two proposed sites, Thyspunt and Duynefontyn in Western Cape, in the national Government Gazette. The public comment period is part of the first phase of the NNR's public participation process requiring Eskom to inform the public and solicit comment on the application.

In August, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) chairman Kelvin Kemm said the government is expecting to secure a local content level of 50% in the new nuclear power plant programme. He told a press briefing that for the existing Koeberg nuclear station there was no localisation requirement, but 43% was achieved. Regarding the cost of the new programme, he said the most detailed analyses undertaken had indicated it would be around $47bn, significantly lower than figures of around $80bn reported in local media.

“We’re not going to buy these nuclear plants all at once,” said Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane at the same briefing. “By the end of the programme you’ll find that the programme is funding itself.” The programme should see the construction of three new plants with a total – depending on the design chosen – of six to nine reactors. By the time construction of the third plant begins, the first would be operational and generating income. This income stream from the first NPP could be used as collateral to refinance the programme, reducing its costs, Tshelane said.

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