Power plants 'will pay for themselves' - As it happened

2015-07-14 10:51

Get all the highlights as government reveals details about South Africa's nuclear programme at a media conference in KwaZulu-Natal.

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Last Updated at 11:35
14 Jul 12:43
IN BRIEF: The budget, finance model and all the research framework done up to this point is not for public consumption. The sites for the plants will be in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Plant workers will be trained in China, Russia, France and other countries.

14 Jul 12:34
And so ends the briefing.

14 Jul 12:30
These assets [power plants] will pay for themselves and generate income. This is notwithstanding the economic activity surrounding the plants. Also the economy will prosper because it will not be struggling for base load power - Tshelane

14 Jul 12:29
Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane speaks to reporters.

14 Jul 12:17

The government aspiration is that by the end of the programme that we are 80% localised. These plants have a 60 year design life span which can be increased to 80 years, says Mbambo.

Investing in this technology can provide cheap and sustainable energy for nearly 80 years and this investment is worth it.


14 Jul 12:12
The State cannot divulge how much has been budgeted for this programme.

14 Jul 12:09
Now back to Mbambo: We have completed the financing model and we have found that the technical studies have strengthened our case to proceed. We know it will have a positive impact to the economy and create jobs. At this stage we have indicated that the funding model cannot be discussed for strategic reasons. We have not yet tested the market.

14 Jul 12:03

This is about getting a partner and be part of the entire process, says Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA CEO Phumzile Tshelane. The build programme is not plants alone, but research reactors, from end fuel production and waste disposal at the end of the line.

We will not localise unless we have the skills to do so, hence the extensive training programmes, he says.

We are not going to reinvent the wheel but we will do it the South African way. With regard to sites, this will be in sites in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal. The siting for the entire programme is not finalised.


14 Jul 12:01

We will not be purchasing a power plant - we will be procuring an industry and strategically localize the entire value chain to become self sufficient in the long term, said Mbambo.



14 Jul 11:55
South Africa could award a contract to one strategic partner or several partners, but this will go through a competitive bidding process first. SA is open to both possibilities - Mbambo

14 Jul 11:50

Mbambo appears to be under a fair amount of strain as beads of sweat gather on his brow.

He reiterates that the procurement processes have yet to start.


14 Jul 11:49

Mbambo now fields a raft of questions from reporters.

We will make reports surrounding this issue public to share information with stakeholders and remain transparent, he promises.

The agreements between the vendor countries does not mean there is a leaning towards any particular country, irrespective of how many people have been dispatched for training.

We will have our own experts who will be able to run and maintain the power plants.


14 Jul 11:44

This process is to start in the second quarter of this year and to be completed by the end of the financial year, having selected the partners.

Government remains committed to providing a reliable and stable energy supply.

The programme will create jobs, empower people with skills and catapult the economy.


14 Jul 11:41
Part of the procurement process going forward there will be a competitive bidding process that is transparent, promises Mbambo.

14 Jul 11:39
Government is still to negotiate the price tag during the procurement process so the exact figure cannot be made available to the public at this stage, says Mbambo.

14 Jul 11:39

South Korea and France have offered similar scholarships that will support the government effort of the nuclear new build programme.

On matters of funding and finance models, various technical studies have been completed.


14 Jul 11:38
A memorandum of understanding has been signed to cover the training and development of 200 people at Russian institutions.

14 Jul 11:37

50 trainees from government entities have been sent to China for the first phase of training. Plans are under way to send an additional 250 employees this year.

With regard to Russia, they have offered 10 new scholarships for masters degrees in nuclear technology.


14 Jul 11:35
With skills development and training - national activities have started.

14 Jul 11:35
The government decision making process was informed by detailed investigations into the technical aspects of the programme.

14 Jul 11:34

To date the state has signed agreements with China, France, Russia, South Korea and the US.

The agreements also described broad areas of nuclear co-operation and they differ based on the needs and capability of each country. The government undertook vendor parades, explains Mbambo, and the parades were conducted with vendor countries and concluded professionals from government and universities.

There were attended by up to 80 South African experts and interrogated the technical offerings of each country so that the state derives the maximum benefit.

The workshops provided a platform for professionals to exchange their views on the nuclear new build programme.


14 Jul 11:28

Consultation with the necessary stakeholders to join a forum for civil liability for nuclear damage - Mbambo

Government is also considering transferring the task of nuclear safeguards from the operator to the state, he says.


14 Jul 11:27
Studies have confirmed that the programme is fundable and will contribute to the economy, says Mbambo.

14 Jul 11:27

In March 2011 Cabinet approved an IRP plan that puts nuclear at 23% but 2030, says Mbambo.

The first unit will be commissioned by 2023.


14 Jul 11:21

Department of energy's deputy director general, Zizemele Mbambo, is now briefing the media.

Apologies for the earlier incorrect accreditation.


14 Jul 11:19
The briefing that was due to start at 11:00 is about to get under way, says Jeff Wicks.

14 Jul 11:08

Russia is seen as the frontrunner to win the right to build South African nuclear power plants that may be worth as much as $100bn (R1.2 trillion), wrote Fin24's Mike Cohen last week.

With a six-month deadline to award contracts, who’s going to pay for the country’s biggest project yet remains a mystery.

Price-tag estimates for as many as eight reactors generating 9 600 megawatts, which the government wants to begin operating from 2023 and complete by 2029, range from $37bn to $100bn (R458bn - R1.2trn). Bids are due to start this quarter, with Russia’s Rosatom seen as a leader.

Areva SA, EDF SA, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric Corporation, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding and Korea Electric Power have also shown interest.


14 Jul 11:01

After the media were told to wait in the "equivalent of a broom cupboard", as News24's Jeff Wicks calls it, a department of energy spokesperson said the "executes are still preparing".

"Once they are ready we will call you," she says tersely.


14 Jul 10:51

The Department of Energy, along with state-owned entities involved in the country's nuclear programme, are set to get under way with a briefing at Zimbali Lodge on KwaZulu-Natal's north coast.

The media conference follows the submission of inter-governmental framework agreements on nuclear co-operation to Parliament.

News24 reporter Jeff Wicks is at the lodge.

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