South Africa’s state utility Eskom said on 2 February that 27 companies have said they intend to provide a response to a request for information (RFI) issued in December in relation to planned new nuclear reactors.

The companies include “major nuclear vendors” from China (SNPTC), France (EDF), Russia (Rusatom Overseas) and South Korea (Kepco). The response to the RFI shows the level of competitive interest in the South African nuclear new build programme, Eskom said. Eskom said the RFI is part of an “information-gathering exercise” related to nuclear project capacities and costs, proposed financing solutions and localisation opportunities. The information will also be used to supplement Eskom’s response to the government’s draft integrated resource plan (IRP), which was published in November 2016 for public comment.

Eskom currently operates South Africa’s Koeberg NPP featuring two 970MWe pressurised water reactors supplied by Framatome, which began operation in 1984 and 1985.

The 27 companies will have to submit a response to Eskom by April 28 on their capabilities to build the proposed NPPs. In January, Eskom dismissed allegations that it had “usurped” the nuclear procurement from the Department of Energy (DOE). The allegations, were part of an affidavit submitted to the Western Cape High Court, by Earthlife Africa’s Johannesburg branch co-ordinator Makoma Lekalakala. The aim was to support the case brought by the anti-nuclear lobby group and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute to have certain determinations made by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson declared unlawful and unconstitutional. One of these was a 2016 determination designating Eskom, and not DOE, as the procurer of 9600MW from new nuclear plants. The DOE had indicated in its draft IRP, now under discussion, that only 1359MWe of nuclear power should be added to the energy mix by 2037 instead of the 9600MWe by 2023 specified in the older IRP of 2010. It also sought to confirm that renewable energy would form a large part of the energy mix.