South Africa to begin new nuclear procurement

12 December 2023

As the second unit at the Koeberg nuclear power plant goes offline for an extended maintenance outage, South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has confirmed it will go ahead with the procurement of 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity with plans to issue requests for proposals by March 2024.

Ramokgopa announces the procurement plans in a briefing on the South African government's Youtube channel

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has said the DMRE can proceed with the procurement process after it satisfied a set of "suspensive conditions" imposed by the regulator, Minister in The Presidency responsible for Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa announced at a livestreamed media briefing.

The DMRE submitted a report to the regulator addressing these conditions in July, Ramokgopa said. NERSA has now concluded that those conditions had been satisfactorily addressed, issuing a formal concurrence on 2 September. This means that the ministerial determination of 2020 to begin the process to procure the new nuclear capacity will now be gazetted. "We are triggering now... essentially a procurement process. We are going out to ensure that we are able to get that additional 2500MW of nuclear capacity to ensure that we are able to meet issues of national security and energy sovereignty," Ramokgopa said.

Extending Koeberg

Nuclear power is an important part of South Africa's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, which called for the country to make preparations for new nuclear capacity, alongside the continued operation of the existing Koeberg nuclear power plant. The two units at the plant have a combined capacity of 1860 MWe and generate around 6% of the country's electricity. Currently licensed to operate until 2024 and 2025, respectively, utility Eskom has applied to the country's nuclear regulator to extend the operating life of the plant by an additional 20 years beyond its initial 40-year operating life.

Koeberg unit 1 was synchronised to the energy grid on 18 November after nearly a year offline for the replacement of the plant's three original steam generators, a prerequisite for the long-term operation of the plant. Koeberg 2 is to undergo similar work, and Ramokgopa confirmed that now unit 1 is running at full load, unit 2 was taken offline on 11 November for it to be carried out. It is expected to return to service by August, he added.

South Africa continues to face electricity constraints and loadshedding, and nuclear has proven to be a reliable source of energy to ensure future energy security and energy sovereignty, the minister said. "Of course, we continue to make every effort to address load shedding because the benefit of what we are announcing, you are not going to see it tomorrow, you'll not see it in a year’s time, you won’t see it in two years' time. In three to four years, that’s when you’ll begin to see the benefits."

New head for Eskom

The ministerial announcement was made days after state-owned Eskom confirmed the appointment of Dan Marokane as its new group chief executive. Marokane will assume the position "no later than" 31 March.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News