South Africa starts consultations on nuclear new build

15 June 2020

South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to enable it to assess nuclear technologies that could be considered for a national programme to build 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity. The programme could include conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs), small modular reactors (SMRs) or a blend of technologies.

(Image: DMRE)

Publication of the RFI is the start of preparatory work to develop plans for a future nuclear programme, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Twitter. "Given the long lead-time of building additional new nuclear capacity, upfront planning is necessary for security of energy supply to society," he said.

Mantashe said in May the DMRE would start work on a roadmap for nuclear procurement, which is in line with South Africa's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

"It is envisaged that the South African Nuclear Power Programme may comprise a blend of baseload power combining both conventional PWR and SMR technologies to a total of 2500 MW at a pace and scale the country can afford," the RFI notes. Owing to the "significant technology and maturity difference" between conventional PWRs and SMRs, participants may comment on more than one technology.

PWR technologies submitted to the RFI should be currently commercially available. SMR technologies are expected to be under development for commercialisation by 2030. Submissions must address aspects including costing and financing; plant design features; licensability of the plant design in South Africa; feasibility of construction at South African sites; a detailed project management plan; and indicative contracting models. Submissions for conventional PWRs should also include options for using the reactor for the desalination of sea water.

Participants in the RFI - which DMRE describes as a stand-alone information-gathering and market-testing exercise only - have until 15 July to register their interest in the RFI.

Two PWRs at Koeberg, operated by state-owned utility Eskom, began commercial operations in the mid-1980s and together generate some 5% of South Africa's electricity.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News