South Africa plans next steps with vendors

21 October 2014

South Africa is moving towards signing framework agreements with China and Japan and is inviting would-be reactor vendor countries to participate in workshops to showcase their offerings as it moves through the pre-procurement phase of its nuclear new-build plans.

In a statement, the South African Department of Energy said that it expects energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to sign an inter-governmental agreement with China during the first week of November and also to sign one with Japan "at a later stage". Joemat-Pettersson has recently signed similar agreements with Russia and France, and the country already has agreements in place with the USA and South Korea.

In parallel with the signature of the agreements, the department is planning to hold so-called 'vendor parade workshops' with all vendor countries "that are ready and have accepted the invitation to participate." These events, says the department, will provide a platform for vendor countries to "showcase and demonstrate" their capabilities and how, if chosen, they would meet South Africa's need for an additional 9600 MWe of nuclear capacity. The workshops are to form part of the government's technical investigations prior to making its procurement decision and the first of the series, with Russia, is to be held before the end of October.

The signature of the first of the recent cooperation agreements by Joemat-Pettersson and Rosatom director general Sergey Kiriyenko in September prompted allegations of presidential impropriety in the South African media, which were publicly refuted by South African President Jacob Zuma. The South African government appears to be keen to demonstrate its commitment to openness and transparency in the procurement process.

State-owned nuclear energy company Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) welcomed the steps being taken by the government, describing the signature of the intergovernmental agreements as an important step towards implementation of the new-build program. In a statement, Necsa chair Mochubela Seekoe emphasised that the program would develop skills, create sustainable jobs and contribute to economic growth for the country. "The nuclear power expansion … seeks to deliver a modern nuclear generation fleet which will ensure a low-cost and low-carbon base load electricity supply for decades to come," he said.

South Africa has two operating nuclear power reactors at Koeberg as well as a long history of involvement with nuclear research activities dating back to the 1940s. Faced with the need to broaden its energy mix both to meet its electricity needs while achieving economic growth and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the country's 2010 Integrated Resource Plan sets out a blueprint for a sustainable energy mix including an expansion in nuclear capacity alongside an increase in renewable energy.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News