Eskom to co-operate with Coega Development Corp in nuclear development

17 March 2017

South African power utility Eskom on 14 March signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Coega Development Corporation (CDC) to cooperate in the development of the nuclear new build programme.

Eskom is pushing ahead with its nuclear programme, although the review of the integrated resource plan (IRP 2010) is still under way and in face of strong opposition from environmental groups. South Africa's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for 2010-2030 calls for construction of 9600 MWe of new nuclear capacity – supplying 23% of the country's electricity – with the first reactor to come online by 2023.

Under the MOU, Eskom and CDC, both state-owned enterprises, will work together in support of government's plans to build local capacity through supplier development and localisation around the unfolding infrastructure for the nuclear programme.

"We are gearing ourselves up in preparation for the nuclear new build programme in order to deliver the project within the set timelines and budget," said Abram Masango, Eskom's group executive for group capital. "We want to ensure that South Africans get reliable, decarbonised base load power that will bring sustainable economic growth. In addition, it is critical to lay the foundation for local people to participate meaningfully during the various stages of the project by skilling them for jobs as well as business opportunities. We look forward to a productive working relationship under this memorandum with our counterparts, the CDC."

Christopher Mashigo, CDC's executive manager of business development, says the collaboration with Eskom is aligned with CDC's mandate, which is to drive the creation of an industrial complex to promote integration with industry and increase value-added production, while creating employment and the associated socio-economic benefits in the region in which it is located. "An integrated energy plan carries with it the potential to catalyse the (re)industrialisation of the East Coast corridor manufacturing economy – translating to a higher and inclusive growth path and job creation," Mashigo said.

Eskom says it has applied for environmental authorisation for the first nuclear power reactors. The environmental assessment practitioners recommended the Thyspunt site, which is located in Jeffrey's Bay, in the Eastern Cape, as the preferred site, it points out. Eskom said success of the nuclear new build programme rests on the participation of various government departments and state-owned enterprises.

The MOU between Coega, whose shareholders are the Department of Trade and Industry and the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Eskom, whose shareholder is the Department of Public Enterprises, enhances the bond between these state entities, it noted. Eskom is the designated procurer for the nuclear new build programme in terms of the amended section 34 determination as gazetted in December 2016.

Eskom released its request for information (RFI) on 20 December for the country's nuclear new build program. Last month, the company said some 27 companies – including China's SNPTC, France's EDF, Russia's Rusatom Overseas and South Korea's Kepco – have stated that they intend to provide a response to the RFI by the 28 April deadline.

Photo: Koeberg, South Africa's only existing nuclear plant

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