The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) has welcomed the issuing of a request for information (RFI) by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) for the possible construction of nuclear power plants.
DMRE said, “Given the long lead-time of building additional new nuclear capacity, upfront planning is necessary for security of energy supply to society into the future.”
The RFI “is intended to commence the Departmental preparatory work to develop plans for a future nuclear energy build programme”.
It “will enable the Department to gain insight into the cost of the programme, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end user cost and sustainability of the programme”. Responses to the RFI must be submitted by no later than 15 September.
The RFI, which is a stand-alone information-gathering exercise, does not commit to any competitive tender. It follows approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in October 2019. Necsa said the IRP had “clearly” stipulated that South Africa would undertake initial activities for the acquisition of 2500MWe nuclear power plant to ensure energy security, but at an affordable scale and pace.
Necsa board chairperson David Nicholls said: “The RFI allows the government to gain a deeper understanding of how much it will cost to deploy 2500MWe of nuclear technology."
"The various options for funding and ownership will indicate how this could meet the objective of being at a pace and scale the country can reasonably afford,” he added.
South Africa's Nuclear Energy Act of 2008 specifies that a new nuclear power plant construction programme would have to contribute to the country’s economic growth through the development of local skills, expertise and infrastructure.
“The issues raised in the previous IRP debates for nuclear relate to the realistic costing, funding and ownership model adopted and this RFI should assist in resolving some of the uncertainty,” Nicholls pointed out. “As this is only a request for information, with no financial or contractual impact, it is the best way to move the debate forward.”
Necsa acting Group CEO Ayanda Myoli said, “Necsa is ready to offer its technical support and expertise to DMRE and the country in the realisation of the nuclear power expansion programme.”
Necsa noted that South Africa had more than 50 years of experience in operating nuclear facilities.
Women in Nuclear South Africa (WiNSA) also welcomed the RFI. Nomathemba Radebe, WINSA president, said: “Gender equality is one of South Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals. WiNSA sees the expansion of the nuclear industry as a great opportunity for women in nuclear research, industry entrepreneurs, and collaboration between the private sector, academia, as well as the public sector. South Africa needs to invest in infrastructure for security of energy supply and for economic growth.”