South Africa to build second nuclear plant

12 February 2007

South Africa is to build a second conventional nuclear power plant to boost electricity supplies. Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin announced today that the Eskom board had approved the plan late last year and that a decision on the preferred supplier would be made in March 2007. Industry sources suggest that Areva or Westinghouse technology is likely.

The new plant will be built in the Cape Province, at sites already earmarked for nuclear plants. Cape Province already has the 1842 MWe two-unit Koeberg nuclear plant, using French technology, which came on line in 1984-85. 

Speaking at the economic cluster briefing in the South African Parliament, Erwin also gave details on the plans for the Pebble Bed Modual Reactor (PBMR).

Since 1993 Eskom in collaboration with others has been developing the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and is ready to build the lead unit of this design. The PBMR draws on well-proven German expertise and aims for a step change in safety, economics and proliferation resistance. 

The development company, PMBR Ltd, has been seeking a further international equity partner in the venture. Current investors are the South African government, the Industrial Development Corporation, Eskom and Westinghouse. After the demonstration pilot plant is in operation, the South African government has said that it wants to order 24 or more units totalling at least 4000 MWe.  One quarter of South Africa's electricity is envisaged from PBMRs.

Eskom is primarily coal-fuelled in its power generation. However, South Africa's main coal reserves are in the north-east, while much of the load is on the coast near Cape Town and also Durban. Hence it was decided in the mid 1970s to build the Koeberg nuclear power plant near Cape Town. Similar considerations apply today.

Further information

Eskom

WNA Nuclear Power in South Africa information paper

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